Karina LeBlanc, her name alone elicits a wild applause from fans of the global game and women all over the world who know her for her vociferous and honest voice in the world of soccer and social impact. Karina’s been on Canada’s senior national team for the past 17 years (she now 35), and is bidding adieu to the international game after the 2015 Women’s World Cup. Five Women’s World Cups, two Olympic Games and three Pan American Games, as well as a 2012 Olympic bronze medal (after Canada came in dead last at the 2011 WWC) are all on her impressive resumé, but she doesn’t stop there. I remember the first time I saw Karina speak at Beyond Soccer about her work with UNICEF, I was blown away by her enthusiasm and forthrightness about the role that athletes have in serving as changemakers for youth and the underprivileged.
“Traveling with UNICEF was incredibly rewarding. It was inspiring to connect with girls who face so many challenges but are using soccer to beat the odds and reach their goals. I told these children that soccer has also given me many opportunities and that they should dream big and never give up.” — Karina LeBlanc.
Photo by: Paul Giamou (CNW Group/UNICEF Canada)
“Competing in the World Cup on home soil makes me unbelievably proud to be a Canadian. We are a compassionate and generous country. I encourage Canadians to high-five every time their favourite team scores or a goalkeeper makes a great save and donate $5 so UNICEF can reach the world’s most vulnerable children to help them survive and thrive.” – Karina LeBlanc
I personally, would love it if Canadians donated $5 for every SAAAVE Karina makes this tournament. Karina taught many to glorify the “Save!” just as much as the “Goal!” and her boisterous cheers will be missed by all. After the fervor of the Women’s World Cup dies down, LeBlanc will complete the NWSL season with the Chicago Red Stars.