Helen Stoumbos lined up for what would be a historic Canadian corner kick, all but swallowed up by a jersey that looked more like a red and white parachute.
"We got hand-me-downs, our uniforms were all extra extra large. And the jerseys didn't have our names on them and FIFA specifications that our names had to be on the back. And actually our coaches sat the night before with a press, putting all our names on the back," Stoumbos said with a laugh.
"A different time."
Indeed. When Alphonso Davies soared high in the air to head home Canada's first goal at a men's World Cup in Sunday's 4-1 loss to Croatia, the historic marker came 27 years after Stoumbos scored Canada's first-ever World Cup goal in a 3-2 loss to England in June 1995.
Her goal was a beauty, a corner kick that curled perfectly around the English goalkeeper's outstretched hand and then a defender, who was rooted to the goal line.
Stoumbos wasn't surprised to see the ball curl into the far side of the net. She'd learned to strike perfect corners from her dad, John Stoumbos. She'd scored off a corner kick to lift Wilfrid Laurier to a U Sports (then known as CIAU) Canadian university title that same year.
"I trained on those to be honest with you," Stoumbos, now 52, said in an interview Wednesday. "The day before in training, my roommate at the time (Suzanne Gerrior), I was talking to her because I took all the corner kicks, I said 'You know, I can score off of corner kicks.'
"I knew that I could curve it because I trained for it many times, my dad taught me how to curve the ball. So it wasn't as fluky as people think it was."
The goal in the 87th minute was met with virtually zero fanfare. Canada was trailing 3-0 at the time, and so Andrea Neil hastily scooped up the ball and rushed back to centre. Geri Donnelly's goal in injury time would make it a 3-2 loss.
Stoumbos hadn't even known she'd made history.
"It never even occurred to me anything other than it was just a goal," Stoumbos said. "I think it was six months later that somebody actually came to me and said, 'Hey, do you know who scored Canada's first-ever World Cup goal?' And I was like, 'No who?' And they were like, 'You did!'
"I had no idea. There was no talk about it then. I mean, we were just playing. There wasn't talk about 'Hey are we going to score Canada's first World Cup goal?'"
Another thing missing that day? Fans. Official game attendance at Olympia stadium in Helsingborg: 250. The video of Stoumbos's goal shows a completely empty end zone behind the net.
"We came back from Sweden and I think our games were broadcast a week later at midnight," Stoumbos said. "So there wasn't any audience, there wasn't any attention . . . so, we didn't really think about it. I didn't think about it."
That 1995 team, Canada's first to compete at a women's World Cup, held a reunion at the 2015 edition of the global tournament in Vancouver. It was overwhelming, Stoumbos said, to see how the support for the women's game had exploded.
"It was so emotional . . . so amazing to see kids wearing Sinclair jerseys, Wilkinson jerseys, Matheson jerseys, and knowing the players by name," she said. "It's really cool to go from playing in a day where basically the only fans in the stands were your family and friends, to seeing the country really take on the women's team and love them and look up to them.
"And they deserve it. It's awesome for kids to see the women, and that's how we empower young kids, right? But we were all really emotional at the World Cup, just seeing how much it's grown, it was Charmaine Hooper was there, Ger Donnelly was there, Silvana Burtini was there, and we all just were like, 'This is crazy. Like, this was so not what we experienced.'"
Stoumbos and other Canadian women in sports have been disappointed by some of the coverage of the men's FIFA World Cup in Qatar. There was much hype about Canada's "first World Cup appearance in 36 years." Davies' goal was touted as "the greatest moment in Canadian soccer history," while the Canadian women won Olympic gold last year in Tokyo.
"It's almost like the men's World Cup came on the scene and everybody's forgot, and it's not even me, it's everything that the women have done, you're discrediting Christine Sinclair, Diana Matheson, Rhian Wilkinson . . . all the players that have come through the system, and it's like everybody's kind of forgotten that the women's team even existed," Stoumbos said.
"I like that it's kind of bringing awareness to the women's game, because I'm seeing a lot of female players being a little bit more vocal about 'Hey, wait a second. Wait a second. Christine scored in five World Cups first. Marta (from Brazil) scored in five World Cups first. So, I think that we're just seeing the awareness of the women's game coming alongside the men's game."
Cristiano Ronaldo made headlines when he became first player to score in five men's World Cups when he connected on a penalty last week against Ghana.
Stoumbos is still thrilled with the Canadian men's presence in Qatar, their first World Cup in 36 years. Just just because the women are looking for recognition, she said, doesn't mean they're not proud of the men.
"We're all here supporting," she said. "I've had parties watching the men's games, parties watching the women's games, they're the exact same for me. I think we just need to be aware that the women have played the game and have been in World Cups and we need to honour them.
"And it's not about me, it really isn't. It's about the women in general, it's just honoring those players that have put their bodies on the line, and whatnot."
Stoumbos is president of the Good Games, which is an annual multi-sport competition in Guelph, Ont., for people over the age of 30.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2022.
Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press