With two nieces aged six and 10, Canadian soccer star Christine Sinclair knows all too well the impact of the pandemic and everything that comes with it on today's youth.
"They've struggled with not being able to go to school and see their friends," said Sinclair. "A lot of their school programs and sports, I mean they're starting up again now, but they struggled with the isolation and being stuck at home and not being able to do the things that kids are normally able to do.
"And they have an incredible support system. I can only imagine how other youth feel that maybe don't have the same support system."
To that end, the 37-year-old from Burnaby, B.C., has joined forces with the Canadian Women's Foundation to help raise funds for girls impacted by the pandemic. With International Day of the Girl scheduled for Oct. 11, the Canadian Women's Foundation has launched the #ShowUpForGirls campaign (https://canadianwomen.org/show-up-for-girls/).
The campaign asks people to share how they are doing their part to uplift girls in the pandemic using the hashtag #ShowUpForGirls. Thanks to Giant Tiger and Sinking Ship Entertainment, every donation made in October to support girls’ programs in Canada through the campaign will also be tripled, up to $20,000.
Isolation has exacerbated mental health issues, as have increased economic instability and the threat of violence at home. The Canadian Women's Foundation says local "girl-focused" programs face growing challenges to stay open.
The foundation funds such programs through its Girls’ Fund, which gives girls and non-binary youth tools "to develop into confident, resilient people."
"I'm a firm believer in fighting for youth and girls, specifically," said Sinclair. "This just made sense to me that in the midst of a global pandemic, girls are probably being impacted greatly.
"To help raise awareness to that and help raise some money to keep programs alive and well that support girls, it's very important to me."
For the Portland-based Sinclair, the campaign is also a chance to give back to Canada and help where it is needed. Sinclair has been able to get back to Canada once since February, serving her quarantine at the family cabin.
On the field, Sinclair has scored four times in her last two games for Portland as the NWSL continues play with its abbreviated, regional Fall Series. The Thorns wrap that up Saturday against the OL Reign in Tacoma, Wash.
It's been a little taste of normalcy in strange times.
"For those 90 minutes that you're on the field with your teammates competing against people other than your teammates, it feels normal. But the fact that we're playing in a season that consists of four games is disappointing," she said. "It's been a hard year.
"I remember Jan. 1, getting ready to prep for the Olympics, qualify (for Tokyo). I thought we were going to have a great season with the Thorns. (There was) just so much excitement built for this year.
" It's been a tough year but we're all trying to make the best of it, I guess."
Portland also played six games this summer at the Challenge Cup in Utah, making the semifinals before losing to the eventual champion Houston Dash.
On the international front, Sinclair has scored a world-record 186 goals in her 296 appearances for Canada, but has been idle recently The eighth-ranked Canadian women have not played since March 10 when they tied Brazil 2-2 at a tournament in Calais, France.
The Canadian women are awaiting word on confirmation on a possible camp later this month.
That could mean a reunion with Quinn, a friend and Canadian teammate, who came out publicly last month as transgender.
"There's moments where what we do is so much bigger than soccer and sport," said Sinclair. "To see what Quinn has done, I'm so amazingly proud. Quinn is so brave and has shed a spotlight on something that not many people talk about."
Sinclair says Quinn has the support of the entire Canada team.
"I've never been more proud of a teammate, to be honest," she added.
While Portland has made news recently for unrest in the streets, Sinclair says the protests have been limited to a small portion of the downtown core and have not lived up to the headlines.
"Obviously there are things happening, especially at night. There's some intense situations. As a team, we've been told to avoid certain areas of downtown at night. But honestly it's not as it's been made to seem. The city's isn't on fire, like some people have said."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct 5, 2020
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press