Black History Month: Olivia Dibua
February 24th, 2023
(WHITBY, ON) - In celebration of Black History Month, Rugby Ontario is spotlighting BIPOC members of the Ontario rugby community who are making a difference in the sport. Today’s profile is on Olivia Dibua. Olivia is a player who plays her club rugby with the North Halton Highlanders and her high school rugby at Mayfield SS. She is also a member of the Rugby Ontario Development Academy and the Niagara Thunder 7s program. Read below to learn more about Olivia's story.
1. How did you first get involved with rugby?
I first got involved with rugby when I joined my high school team, the Mayfield Mavericks. I was encouraged by my flag-football coach to play because to quote her “you would be so crazy at it because you already knock girls on the field by accident.”
2. What is your favourite rugby memory?
After winning our tournament, my team and I headed out to treat ourselves after a long day of rugby. We drove around and stopped at an ice cream shop shaped like a castle. Although the wait was long, it was the biggest and best ice cream ever. I genuinely remember how happy everyone was with their smile plastered on their faces that were smudged with ice cream.
3. What do you love most about the sport?
I love how inclusive this sport is, compared to other sports. Unlike other sports that seek out specific physical traits from the players, rugby is a sport anyone can play. For example, people who play basketball are often selected by their height, while in rugby, regardless of someone's height or size, all that matters is the player themselves.
4. What are your goals as you move forward in your rugby career?
I have only been playing rugby for almost a year, but I have grown to love the sport. I have fallen in with the intensity and eagerness that it brings out in me. For that reason, I plan on playing in university and wherever rugby might take me after that, whether that be coaching 7-year-olds on the weekends or playing on the national team.
5. What does Black History Month mean to you?
Black History Month is a reminder that black is love. During February, I reflect with others on why we are so proud to be black and love it. Do not get me wrong, it is always a good day to be black. However, during Black History Month, there is a special recognition universally that creates a special bond between people. It is an occasion for everyone to join in the ongoing celebration of blackness and black excellence.
6. What effect has being a person of colour had on your experience in rugby?
In all honesty, when I first joined rugby, I felt out of place because of the simple fact that I was the only black girl on my team. I began to question if I was good enough and believed that there was this expectation that I had to work ten times as hard as my white counterparts. Fortunately, my new teammates and coaches welcomed me with open arms. I soon realized that my skin colour did not matter; what mattered was who I was as a player on the field and a person off of it.
7. Why might Black History Month hold special importance/meaning in the rugby community?
Black history month is an opportunity to appreciate the struggles of the past generations for freedom and for us to learn from them as we seek to make our future a better and more inclusive one. So, it is important that the rugby community welcomes and includes everyone regardless of their background. No one should feel as if they are not welcome to do what they are passionate about. The rugby community needs to remain a community that allows all people to come together and play a sport we all collectively love.
8. What can Rugby Ontario do to make our sport more diverse and inclusive?
Rugby is not where it should be in terms of diversity, but things are starting to change. When I first started playing, I was often the only black girl on the field. However, these days, I see more and more black girls playing, and I get so excited. For Rugby Ontario to make our sport more diverse there needs to be more representation, whether that is on the teams, coaching staff, and medical professionals. Players need to be able to look up to people like them and feel encouraged to participate in it. To quote Nelson Mandela: “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand.” In other words, if a change is made within the rugby world, it just might have that much of an impact on the outside world.
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Rugby Ontario is the provincial sports governing body responsible for the organization of rugby in Ontario. Our mission is to lead, support and promote Rugby for All from communities to clubs to province. This mission signals a movement toward creating a more cohesive, supportive and progressive sporting environment that is responsive to the needs of all members.
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