Former Canadian women’s goalkeeper, Karina LeBlanc: “Be God Great”

Ollie Baines managed to nestle his way into Karina LeBlanc’s tight schedule to talk to the former international Women’s Footballer about her illustrious career and Christian faith. 

So Karina, tell us how you got first yourself into the world of football?

“I started later in life. My Mum had me doing really girly things like ballet and piano lessons and there was just a calling inside me that said, “I just want to go outside and play football!”. I used to be the shyest kid ever and football gave me new confidence, like my life was relevant on this earth. So I started when I was 11 years-old and it was the beginning of the end for me because I didn’t turn back from that moment I entered the field.”

When did you find out that you were a goalkeeper?

“Well, the goalkeeping part came on the competitive side. I had the athletic ability; I was big, strong and able to push people off the ball. I liked playing out on field, getting touches and scoring goals but I’d always be left so frustrated when we let in goals so I said, “I’ll go in goal!”.

It was just one of those things but I ended up absolutely falling in love with the position. People think goalkeepers are crazy but I think we are actually the geniuses of this world.”

If you weren’t a goalkeeper, what position would you be playing instead?

“Oh, I’d be a striker! It’s funny, sometimes when we keepers do some shooting drills our finishing is pretty on point but granted, we couldn’t run as much as the strikers do. I think the interesting thing about the position of a keeper is that, it’s the only position that you can’t just let any old person go in.”

Talk us through that moment when you knew you had made it as a professional women’s soccer player.

“Being Christians, God puts us through different obstacles because it’s all in his timing. I think throughout my career I had several big injuries and the timing of everything was just not what I wanted but I knew that I had made it when I walked into an airport and this person, in a good way, freaked out because they’d seen me. In that moment I thought, if I can have that much of an impact on one person, then I’m doing something right.

For me, I never thought “oh yes, I am now big time”, but playing for my national team for 18 years I was inspired, not for myself, but to inspire others. At the beginning of my career, God told me, my career was there to help inspire others and you could see that when you get the opportunities to speak at events, attend schools and deliver talks. For me, I have discovered my calling and that is to live my life to glorify God.”

You’ve played for a host of different clubs, but what has been your career highlight at club level?

“Oh man, that’s so tough. Every team has had its highlights with every season. Most athletes would dream of a chance to play in an environment like Portland with the Thorns. Winning the championship with that club was just incredible. I don’t want to discredit any other of my teams because I had some wonderful moments in my career but people will understand what it meant to represent that team and play in a stadium with that kind of atmosphere.

With that said, I just wanted God to use me in my career in every situation, to be God great, which means to be as great as God had intended us to be. As a player, the only certainty there is in football is that the game will start, half-time and the full-time whistle, so I wanted to let go of all control and let God work through me.”

How did you become a Christian?

“I was raised as a Catholic but when I went away to University I joined a Baptist church which was very lively and probably perfect for me personality! I think I re-discovered my relationship with God. I was hearing what was being told and I literally wanted to live out that faith. For me, my faith then became part of my life and in my sporting life because I realised that God could use my platform to share my faith with others.”

Karina, you represented Canada over 100 times, what did that mean to you?

“For me, I would say that representing Canada had different changes along the way. I got to play for them over 18 years and when I was younger, it was just awesome because hard-work has paid off. When I was 15, I had been cut off from the provincial squad and I remember crying in the car and my Dad saying “what are you going to do about it”? So when I finally made it in the team at the beginning it was so awesome and I just wanted to prove myself. Growing up, the national coach always told us, there are two types of people who wear this jersey, those who defend our country and those who inspire it. I was now there and ready to inspire my nation. It became more than the sport for me, I wanted to inspire people and be the person who God intended me to be.”

Best player you’ve played with?

“I’ve played with so many great players! Everybody has their assets. You’ve got players like; Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan and Sophie Schmidt who are all phenomenal players .


I could go through my entire career and I could name so many players, so I’ll say that I’ve played with many incredible players and leave it there!”

How excited are you about the future of Women’s Football?

“I’m so excited! I came in my first World Cup in 1999 and I think it made the newspaper, whereas now you have sold out stadiums and games shown on TV across the world. The more that young women can see the potential they have from Women’s Football then it’s far better for the sport. I think things like sponsorship and TV rights are changing the future of the game more and more which is amazing for us.”

What do you think about the future of Women’s Football?

What did you take away from our interview with Karina?

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