People always say sport teaches valuable life lessons. If true, Rugby Sevens stalwart Bianca Farella has earned a doctorate in the last 18 months.
Just before the Tokyo Olympics, something like 55 per cent of players and alumni agreed that there were culture and coaching problems at Rugby Canada. Tackling that messy situation was necessary, and a great long-term project, but the timing was awful for the women’s team as they prepared for the Games.
Undergoing cultural upheaval comes at the cost of short-term team focus. Canada’s Rugby 7s women are stronger and healthier in every sense now, but the upheaval contributed to disappointment in the most recent Summer Olympics. The success the women enjoyed in their bronze medal debut at Rio in 2016 was not to be duplicated.
The No. 2 player in the world scorer of tries did not get there by ignoring the big picture. She is proud of how she and her team have blazed safe sport trails for other Canadian federations to follow. After Tokyo, Farella went back to university to finish her undergrad, and started considering other career goals. She thought she was finished playing Rugby, but a new head coach got her back into training, and back on the pitch.
Jump ahead a couple of months, and Farella, now fully returned to peak competitive form, comes down with COVID on the eve of flying to the 7s World Cup in South Africa. Cheering on teammates from a sick bed, nine time zones distant is not anybody’s idea of a good time.
But for Bianca Farella, it is important to persevere through setbacks. An end to competition comes for everyone eventually. For now, one of the fastest athletes in the sport is content to slow down long enough to consider the next steps.
Like the CBC Sports’ Player’s Own Voice essay series, POV podcast lets athletes speak to Canadians about issues from a personal perspective.
We have transcripts for our hard-of-hearing audience. To listen to Bianca Farella, Summer McIntosh, Beckie Sauerbrunn or any of the guests from earlier episodes, head to CBC Listen or wherever else you get your podcasts.