Feature | Football

Jordyn Huitema - Seven key moments Canada and PSG star has blazed her own trail 

Teen sensation Huitema is the most exciting soccer talent of a generation, just like boyfriend Alphonso Davies. Can she and idol Christine Sinclair lead Canada to gold at the Tokyo Games?

By Ken Browne ·

When Jordyn Huitema scored her first goal for the Canadian women's football team, it felt like a changing of the guard.

That was in June 2017, three months after she had made her debut at the age of 15. Now, Huitema was being called on to replace the top goalscorer of all-time in women's international football, Christine Sinclair.

When she scored twice in two minutes in the game against Costa Rica, to become the youngest ever goalscorer for her country, the hype reached fever pitch, 'The Future of Canadian Football', 'The Next Christine Sinclair' screamed the headlines.

"I was kind of shocked that our names were even being said in the same sentence," Huitema said that day.

Now more assured and accomplished, the prodigy is forging her own path in European club football with Paris Saint Germain, and re-writing her own set of records.

She turns 20 in May, but is already the highest-scoring Canadian in the history of the UEFA Women's Champions League, and is having her best season yet in France, helping PSG to the top of the league as they try to prevent the mighty Lyon from winning a 15th straight Division 1 Féminine title.

Huitema is aiming high, for club and country.

"In five years' time, I want a big trophy under my belt. Whether it's a World Cup, an Olympic gold, or a Champions League medal." - Jordyn Huitema to the BBC in Feb 2020

From an early age she's proved she has what it takes to succeed at every step of the journey. Here are seven key stages of Huitema's life so far.

Jordyn Huitema and her brothers: Eat, sleep, play

It all began in the back yard in Chilliwack, British Columbia, for Huitema, cutting her teeth with a ball at her feet as soon as she could walk in the garden with her older brothers Brody and Trent.

Brody was the goalkeeper and the other two wiled away the hours smashing shots at him in goal, honing that technique and building up power.

It was "basically all we did, 24-7,” Jordyn told Canada's Sportsnet.

Jordyn craving competition at the age of 10

At four years old, Huitema started playing with local team Chilliwack FC but the tight-knit community was just too small for the fierce competitor in her.

At 10 she joined a boys team because the girls' team "wasn't competitive enough" as she explained to the BBC.

"It was unheard of at the time. I remember everyone giving me weird looks when I showed up at training. I'd turn up to matches and I'd hear people say, 'Why's there a girl in a jersey?'

"Even some of my team-mates would have something to say if I started a match or played more minutes than them. There were stares and comments but I kind of just silenced them with my performances," she says with a trademark smile.

Canada wins bronze in Women's Football

Canada defeat Brazil in the women's football bronze medal match.

Huitema's rapid rise through youth ranks

Prodigious, precocious, Huitema always stood out. As a youth, she played in a tournament in Seattle where her team lost 7-1 to Surrey United.

She scored the 1 and Surrey signed her up straight away. A call-up to the Canada Under-15s squad quickly followed.

She was 12.

From Surrey, Jordyn followed her brother Brody to the Vancouver Whitecaps on the Elite REX Program in January 2015, her game growing as fast as she was, becoming a natural No.9 with great feet and a physical presence stretching to 180cm (5'11).

Huitema is a poacher with great timing and that elusive ability to ghost into the box, anticipate, and just be wherever the ball drops.

An all-round athlete, she was also really good at ice hockey, and "pretty torn" about deciding between the two.

When she was called up to the senior Canadian national team at 15 and met her hero Christine Sinclair, the decision was suddenly easy.

“I fell in love with the environment, fell in love with the players, everything about it,” she says.

“I realized that’s really where I wanted to be. This is the environment I wanted to live in for the rest of my life. That’s when I started diving headfirst into soccer.”

Her commitment paid off fast and it all happened in 2017: Huitema becoming the first player to score for Canada's U17, U20, and the senior team in one calendar year.

Jordyn Huitema and Christine Sinclair qualify for Tokyo 2020 and target gold

When a 15-year-old Huitema first met her hero Christine Sinclair at national team training she was a big bag of nerves, Sinclair introduced herself and Jordyn said "I know who you are," laughing nervously.

Now they're equals, friends, and teammates forming a deadly duo that has helped Canada qualify for the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in 2021.

Huitema scored the only goal against Costa Rica in the crucial Olympic qualifier to punch Canada's ticket to Tokyo. It was her seventh goal in the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying tournament, finishing as top scorer, and becoming the youngest ever golden boot winner of the competition.

With consecutive bronze medals at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympics, Sinclair has said that she's aiming for nothing less than gold this year, and her young strike partner has the ambition to match.

Jordyn Huitema to PSG... by accident

There are a clutch of rising Canadian female soccer stars playing in Europe right now:

Like 26-year-old striker Janine Beckie at Manchester City, Chelsea midfielder Jessie Fleming who's only 22, and defender Kadeisha Buchanan (25) who plays at the back for Lyon.

Huitema's journey across the Atlantic Ocean came about by chance. PSG sent a scout to assess a different Canada player at the 2017 Algarve Cup.

"Someone from the club was there to watch my team-mate Ashley Lawrence," she continues to the BBC.

Huitema came on as a substitute, and her brief cameo was enough to see her offered a contract practically on the spot.

"We were playing against Japan and I think I got subbed on to the pitch after, like, 70 minutes."

PSG spoke to her agent and she went to train with them for a few months at first, with college on her mind, before the step-up in competition became too great a lure.

"I was at the point in Vancouver where it just wasn't pushing me enough. I'd say to this day it's an amazing environment for young people to progress in, but I wanted to thrive so I came to Paris."

For Huitema, and right-back Lawrence, the chance to learn from the likes of Brazilian double Olympic silver medallist Formiga, well-travelled Afghan-Danish striker Nadia Nadim, German midfield Rio 2016 Olympic champion Sara Däbritz, and exciting young French attack duo Marie-Antoinette Katoto and Kadidiatou Diani was too good to say no.

The Canadian pair worked their way into the team, helping Les Parisiennes reach last year's Champions League semi-final, with Huitema scoring four goals in four games.

They lost that semi-final 1-0 to eventual winners Lyon, who PSG are currently trying to stop winning their 15th straight French league title.

GER v SWE - Women's Football | Rio 2016 Replay

Women's Football Gold Medal Match in Rio 2016.Germany 2-1 Sweden.

Jordyn Huitema meeting boyfriend Alphonso Davies

Whenever you talk about Jordyn Huitema, Canada's other teen soccer sensation Alphonso Davies tends to come up in conversation.

Davies is Canada's most exciting male export in a generation, and wowed the world with his performance for Bayern Munich in the men's Champions League final against Neymar's PSG.

At 19, he was already a Champions League winner, but both halves of this Canadian football power couple have made a name for themselves on the global stage:

He's Jordan Huitema's boyfriend as much as she's Alphonso Davies' girlfriend.

The pair met when they were both at the Vancouver Whitecaps. He was 16, she was 15, and after a year of chatting, messaging, and flirting, Davies finally worked up the courage to ask her to be his girlfriend, saying: "Would you like to be Alphonso Davies' boyfriend?"

"So bad," cringes Huitema in their 'Getting to know us' video on their joint YouTube Channel which is creeping up on four million views.

"It worked," shrugs Davies.

They are both far from home and family and have become a support system for each other.

When they go on holiday they do keepie-ups on the beach. And everything's a competition.

"We even have a competition going over goals," she tells the BBC.

"He won a Golden Boot, then I won one, then I won another one, but since then he's been moved to full-back. So he's like, 'This isn't fair, I'm playing defence.'

"And I'm like, 'Sorry that's not my job'."

Huitema was voted second behind only Germany's Lena Oberdorf on Goal's NxGn 2020 list, and wants to use her platform to bring greater respect and recognition to the women's game.

"I definitely say we're nowhere near where we deserve from a respect point," she continues.

"I think there are some women out there who have accomplished some incredible things and it kind of gets swept under the mat because they are female."

Alphonso Davies and Jordyn Huitema deal with racism

But sexism and the great inequality gap between the men's and women's game is just one of the issues that Huitema and Davies have to deal with.

A picture of them on holiday in Spain posted to Jordyn's Instagram in December 2020 was flooded with over 14,000 comments, some of them hateful and racist.

"We will never see good in the world if all we see is the colour of each other's skin. We are all part of one race, the human race," Huitema said afterwards, supporting her boyfriend who arrived in Canada as a refugee when he was five, fleeing a civil war in Ghana with his family.

Their communities came out in support.

Canada Soccer posted that it "stands firm against racism and discrimination of any kind both in the game and around the world. We are appalled with the hateful comments made to members of our players through social media.

"Share love not hate and work together for a better world."

Canada's men's national team coach John Herdman had their backs too tweeting, "We see the best in human nature from Alphonso/Jordyn, two kids I've worked with."

Bayern Munich president Herbert Hainer told German paper Bild: "Our club stands for cosmopolitanism, the racist hostility will not be tolerated by us in any way."

The support for the couple since has been overwhelming, and they move forward in love, for the game and for each other, resetting records and breaking down barriers as they go.