Karina LeBlanc wants to give back to her hometown.
“Maple Ridge is a community that really helped shape me, not only into the athlete I became, but also the woman who I am,” said the soccer player who guarded Team Canada’s net for 18 years.
She has started the Karina LeBlanc Foundation, which aims to help girls from all socio-economic backgrounds to achieve their dreams, and to produce future leaders.
“I had this crazy dream of being an Olympian,” she recalls, and her mother made LeBlanc approach local businesses to ask for sponsorship.
“You would not believe it now, but I used to be the shyest kid,” she said, but Marv Jones made her ordeal easy.
The Honda dealership owner asked simply, “How much?”
And before she left, he had cut her a cheque for $500.
“For me, that was a huge deal,” she said.
Now LeBlanc wants to help out hometown girls who are “courageous enough to dream big.”
On her website karinaleblanc.com there is a link to her foundation.
It explains how her foundation aspires to continue the good work of Marv Jones, in collaboration with generous donors. Monies received will be put into bursaries and grants that allow girls to attend summer camps and enhance their skills.
The foundation will also create mentorship programs.
“I’m all about living purposefully every single day,” said LeBlanc, adding everyone needs to ask themselves whey they are here.
“What is the ‘why?’ in your life? Once you know that, then everyday decisions get easier.”
She remembers national teach coach John Herdman saying, essentially, “If you think your purpose in life is to kick a soccer ball for Canada, then I’ve failed you.”
From her beginnings in Maple Ridge, LeBlanc went on to play professional soccer. She played for Canada in two Olympic Games, winning bronze at London 2012, at five FIFA Women’s World Cups and two Pan American Games. She won gold at the 2011 Pan Am Games, stopping two penalty shots in the final. In total, she played 110 games for Canada, making her the country’s longest-serving keeper, and retired in 2015.
LeBlanc has not been at a loss for things to do since. She has gone on to join FIFA’s Female Leadership Development Program, is a Unicef ambassador, and is a motivational speaker, broadcaster and on-air host. In 2016, she logged 150,000 air miles.
One of her newest initiatives is called 48 hours of purposeful living, where she challenges people to be the very best version of themself for 48 hours.
“I want to give hope to people who don’t have it,” she said.
“I still dream big. I want to change the world, in my own way, one person at a time.”