Christine Nairn Reflects on her Final Match as a Professional Player
Sunday's friendly between the Houston Dash and TigresÂ FemenilÂ was notable for many reasons, including that it was the final matchÂ of NWSL legend ChristineÂ Nairn'sÂ career.Â
Nairn, whoÂ began her journey withÂ the Houston Fire Department AcademyÂ to become a firefighterÂ this morning,Â was an inaugural member of theÂ NWSL and was the firstÂ player to reach 150Â appearancesÂ in the league.Â ForÂ Houston Dash Head CoachÂ James Clarkson, her impact on the sport extends well beyond just her impact on the pitch.
"Christine is the epitome of what it means to be a professional in our sport, and it has been an honor to coach her over the last three years," ClarksonÂ said after the game. "She is one of the best players to have played in the NWSL and has played a massive role in helping build this league into what it is today."
Nairn, who has been with the Dash since 2019Â and was Clarkson's first signing as head coach, has been a fixture in the league since its debut in 2013.Â The 30-year-old midfielder has played in 167 NWSL competitions forÂ Seattle Reign FC (now OL Reign), the Washington Spirit, the Orlando Pride and the Houston Dash and was a keyÂ contributorÂ to the Dash's 2020Â NWSL Challenge Cup Championship.Â During that time,Â NairnÂ says she has seen the league grow immensely, and expects this growth to continue for years to come.
"I just saw that growthÂ each and everyÂ year in the NWSL," saidÂ Nairn. "To wrap your head around playingÂ againstÂ Barcelona, playing Lyon, playing Tigres, everything like that, when you put it like that,Â it just really does show the growth of this game and how big women's soccer is and is getting. I think that as time goesÂ on,Â I hope that it continues to grow in the way that it is. I think in the firstÂ nineÂ years now the standard is set, now weÂ have toÂ continue to put women's soccer on the map whether that's in the NWSL, in the Mexican league, in leagues overseas. I think women's soccer isÂ definitely somethingÂ that's going to be a big,Â big part of sports in the future."
Fortunately for the NWSL legend, the Dash sentÂ NairnÂ intoÂ retirementÂ with a dominant showing against Tigres, winning the friendly by a score of 5-1. The match also included a pregame celebration ofÂ Nairn'sÂ career and a standing ovationÂ for her when sheÂ came out of the game in theÂ 78thÂ minute. For Clarkson,Â celebratingÂ the accomplishments of the league's most celebrated players is a necessity.
"IÂ think it's very important, when we talk about the growth of this game,Â recognizing the players that were at the forefront of this," said Clarkson.Â "She does it for the love of the game, not for money and she has kept this league afloat. There are many players like her in the league and they need credit. The effort, time and commitment; at times it hasn't been good,Â but it's getting better. The league is getting better and everything about it. Without these players, these things wouldn't be possible. I think it's vitally important from aÂ club standpoint, we recognize these players and have a proper sendoff."
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National Women's Soccer League Stories from September 20, 2021
- Historic Evening Ends with Emotional Farewell at BBVA Stadium - Houston Dash
- Christine Nairn Reflects on her Final Match as a Professional Player - Houston Dash
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