Brittany talks past and future of Canadian women's soccer
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By - Stephen Ewen
Now that she’s retired, Brittany Timko Baxter should get a gig in Canada Soccer’s PR department. She’d be good there.
“The fact that we can talk about Canada winning a Women’s World Cup some day soon and it’s a realistic thing is amazing,” explained Timko Baxter, 32, a Coquitlam product whose national-team playing career will be saluted along with fellow London 2012 Olympics bronze-medallists Chelsea Stewart and Kelly Parker during halftime of Thursday’s friendly between Canada and the U.S. at B.C. Place Stadium.
“Women’s soccer in this country is growing so much as it is. A World Cup would take it to another level.”
She and husband Sean Baxter have a 20-month-old-son, Johnny, and another baby on the way, with a March due date.
Timko Baxter is the girls’ head coach with the Port Moody Soccer Club, where she works alongside her former national team teammate Melissa Tancredi, who’s the PMSC’s lead soccer-performance therapist. As well, former Vancouver Whitecap Johnny Sulentic is the club’s technical director.
Timko Baxter was at the front end of this latest surge in interest in the women’s game in Canada, playing alongside Sinclair and the likes of Kara Lang with the Canadian team at the Under-19 women’s world championship in 2002.
They received considerable TV attention. They played before a crowd of 47,784 at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton in the final, falling 1-0 to the Americans.
It certainly doesn’t feel like 15 years ago now. Many of those names from that team still resonate and crowds for the game have continued to be strong across the country, including at the 2015 Women’s World Cup that Canada hosted. Canada is ranked fifth in the world, while the Americans remain at No. 1.
“Somebody just put some highlights up on Facebook and I saw it and I got teary-eyed,” Timko Baxter said of the 2002 tournament. “That was the launching pad for so many careers with the national team and so many friendships as well. A lot of those girls became some of my best friends.
“I’m proud to have been a part of that group. A look at people like Andrea Neil and Charmaine Hooper and Geri Donnelly and think about what kind of role models they were for me growing up, and to be part of the progression of women’s soccer in this country is special.”
She also contends that she’s not surprised that Sinclair, 34, is still such a factor with this country’s top side. Sinclair has said that she plans to keep playing through the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France.
“She was always insanely good,” Timko Baxter said. “You watch her five years from now, and she’ll still be insanely good. She’s a once-in-a-generation player. She has this passion for the game. You can see it just in the way she plays. She could play until she’s 50 and still be one of the best players in the world.”
Stewart, 27, was born in Denver, but played for Canada thanks to her father Bill being from Manitoba. She was capped 44 times for Canada. She, like Timko, played some with the Whitecap women. Parker, 36, is from Regina. She was capped 40 times.
U.S. versus Canada
Thursday, 7 p.m., B.C. Place Stadium, TSN1.