Disclosure: This post is in partnership with Dairy Farmers of Canada. As always, opinions are my own.
Sport is a big part of many lives, especially here in Canada where we are known for many sports and rightfully so – we have some amazing athletes among us! My girls, like many others, love being involved in sports and being able to have these opportunities available to them is especially important. This brings me to Canadian Dairy Farmers. For the second year, Canada’s dairy farmers have initiated the Champions Fund, a national grant program that encourages and supports the next generation of girls in their pursuit of sports and a healthy lifestyle.
As champions of healthy living, providing nutrition and playing an active role in our communities, Canada’s dairy farmers’ mission is to see that no hurdle exists that might hinder the passion for the game. The goal: to support women’s sports so they will become more watched, more appreciated and more financially stable, from the grassroots level to the elite level.
What is Champions Fund?
The Champions Fund is a nation-wide program within the Fuelling Women Champions initiative, spearheaded by Canada’s dairy farmers, to support girls and women in sport. This year, the fund has been expanded to $150,000 – up from $100,000 in 2016. A total of 30 grants of $5,000 have been awarded to deserving female athletes, teams and organizations across Canada in October 2017.
Today, I’d like to introduce you to Olivia Oliver, a recipient of the Champions Fund. Olivia is a figure skater from Barrie, Ontario. I was able to ask her a few questions to share with you.
What are some of the major obstacles and challenges female athletes are currently facing and do you have any suggestions on how to address such issues?
I don’t know about other athletes, but for me, after I broke the Guinness World Record for the fastest spinner on ice (male or female), my male peers did not necessarily see me as an athlete. As well, my female peers who are not involved in sports did not quite understand or value the achievement. Female athletes, especially teens, have to deal with this, and we have to be twice as strong, remaining focused on our goals and our love of the sport.
I want female athletes to be treated with equal respect. Perhaps if there were more female sports journalists, that would help female athletes receive a fair share of the media coverage and sponsorships.
What are your future goals and endeavours and how will The Champions Fund grant positively impact the outcome?
I want to succeed in my sport and compete at an international level so more people will get to know about my charity campaigns to help kids. When I broke the Guinness World Record, I raised $20,000 for Sick Kids. I had a voice, and people listened, which was very powerful. Through sport I know I can make a difference.
The Champions Fund grant will really make a big difference as it will help pay for the additional coaching and training that I need to reach my goal.
What are your hopes for other aspiring female athletes in particularly figure skaters and what words of encouragement can / do you offer to them?
Figure skating is a really hard sport for girls. If you work hard and have strong coaching, you can make your way to a club level quite quickly. From there, getting to the next stage is quite challenging. Injuries start to happen, your body changes completely and then there’s school and other things to manage. So, girls must keep the love they had for figure skating when they first began otherwise it’s even more difficult if they lose that. They should try and make friends with other skaters so it’s not just about the skating but about friendships too. My mom bought me a bag one Christmas when I was about 10, which said “Never, never, never, give up”. It’s easy to say, but not so easy to do. But I guess that’s the best advice I can give.
Did your parents encourage you to get involved in sport? Do you have any advice for parents whose children have expressed interest in participating in sport?
My mom and dad really encouraged me and my younger brother to get involved in all sports. My dad was really good at many sports but my mom didn’t have the opportunity to play sports much as she grew up in Poland, where girls were not really encouraged and so she wanted us to have the opportunity that she didn’t have.
I don’t know where I’d be or what I’d do without sport. It gives me a purpose and direction and I can be me and meet great people and I get to travel. Parents should let their kids try lots of sports and let the kids choose the sport they want to do.
How has moving to Barrie helped to further you in your skating career?
Moving to Barrie for skating has been great. I train at Mariposa International Training Center and it has the best coaches in Canada. I go to Innisdale SS which is next door to the rink and I’m in the co-op program which means I get to skate in the mornings, go to school in the afternoon and then train again after school.
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Congratulations to Olivia and all the other recipients of Champions Fund. Wishing you all the luck in the world on your very bright futures ahead. You can meet them and learn more about them: here.