Tag Archives: Voice

Player’s Own Voice in Studio: Politics and play with Adam Van Koeverden, Pam Buisa

2020 will go into the almanacs as the year that athletes, en masse, blew up protesting for social change. 

Olympics watchers might say that fuse was lit 50 years ago by the on-podium Black power salutes of Tommie Smith and John Carlos in Mexico City. Heroes now, they were widely criticized at the time. It was similar to Colin Kaepernick’s decision to protest police violence against Black men that cost him his 49ers career, before gradually shifting opinion came closer to Kaepernick’s side.

With more players protesting than ever before, and more podiums becoming platforms for progressive causes, it’s high time for a conversation about the rise of the athlete activist. Player’s Own Voice in Studio hosts Anastasia Bucsis and Signa Butler bring two thoughtful, challenging guests to the table.

Adam Van Koeverden, four-time Olympic medallist and eight-time world champion in canoe/kayak, was elected Liberal Member of Parliament in Oct. 2019. He is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth, in addition to the Minister of Canadian Heritage’s Sport portfolio. As both athlete and politician, he encapsulates the issues at hand.   

Pamphinette Buisa, member of Canada’s national rugby 7s team, has become a leading figure in the west-coast Black Lives Matter movement. She organizes and speaks at rallies and events advocating for better BIPOC circumstances. Buisa asserts that every one of us is a political being, whether we like it or not, and as such, we all have responsibility to act.

WATCH | Buisa, Van Koeverden discuss politics’ place in sports:

Hosts Anastasia Bucsis and Signa Butler lead a conversation about politics and sports. Guests: Gold medallist turned politician Adam van Koeverden and rugby sevens player Pamphinette Buisa. 27:53

Player’s Own Voice in Studio is the newest way that CBC Sports audiences can get to know the inner life of athletes, following in the path of Player’s Own Voice podcast and the Player’s Own Voice personal writing series.

Each digital video episode takes a single topic-driven approach, with our two co-hosts joined by two guests for substantial conversation about issues at the core of modern sport.

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CBC | Sports News

Player’s Own Voice podcast: Karina LeBlanc and soccer’s future

As goalkeeper for the national soccer team, Karina LeBlanc was part of the generation that put the Canadian game on the map. Between Olympic medals and high World cup expectations, the sky is now the limit.

But for LeBlanc and her cohorts, it was never just about what happened on the pitch.

Even in the big wins, the team aimed beyond the game of the day. The truly big play was to make women’s soccer a force for global change. Helping young women get the chance to participate in the world’s game, more often than not, also helped the national team players reassess themselves in positive ways. 

Since becoming Head of CONCACAF Women’s Football, LeBlanc has had the privilege and pleasure to see it happen again and again in the 41 countries that represent the FIFA  association: a shy girl comes to the pitch for the first time,  and within a few hours sees herself as a player, with all the confidence, enthusiasm and strength that goes with that.

Player’s Own Voice podcast host Anastasia Bucsis leads Karina LeBlanc through a refreshingly optimistic conversation about a career in sports that still feels like the best is yet to come — even now.

Earlier this year, Karina wrote a powerful letter to her newborn daughter for CBC Sports’ Player’s Own Voice essay series, which, like the POV podcast, lets athletes speak to Canadians about issues from a personal perspective.

The ‘read’ and ‘listen’ versions of POV are now joined by a new way for athletes to share opinions and expertise about issues in Canadian sports: Player’s Own Voice in Studio brings digital video to the POV approach

To listen to all three seasons of Player’s Own Voice, subscribe for free on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Tune In or wherever you get your other podcasts. 

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CBC | Soccer News

Player’s Own Voice in studio: Where are women’s pro leagues in Canada?

Player’s Own Voice in Studio is the newest way that CBC Sports audiences can get to know the inner life of athletes, following in the path of Player’s Own Voice podcast and the Player’s Own Voice personal writing series.

It takes a topic-driven approach, with co-hosts Signa Butler and Anastasia Bucsis leading their guests in substantial conversation about a single issue each digital video episode.

In today’s debut, the focus is on women’s professional sports leagues in Canada. At last count, there were precisely zero of those, and no one can blame the coronavirus for this shortfall. 

Jayna Hefford, leader of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association, is working on the roll out of pro women’s hockey, and Carmelina Moscato, at League1 Ontario, is assembling the pieces needed to bring a professional soccer league to the province and nationwide. 

What do Canada’s game and the world’s sport stand to learn from one another? Both league-leaders draw inspiration from the WNBA.  Twenty five years after the women’s basketball game started appearing regularly on tv screens, it is now the model to follow.

Hefford and Moscato’s leagues share common needs:  A living wage for athletes. Facilities to play in. Support staff. Bums in seats. A broadcast deal… but which of these, if any, ranks first among equals? What are the keys to the castle? The discussion continues.

WATCH | Hefford, Moscato discuss building women’s pro leagues: 

Hosts Anastasia Bucsis and Signa Butler lead a conversation about building women’s professional sports leagues in Canada. Guests: Jayna Hefford of PWHPA, and Carmelina Moscato, League1 Ontario soccer. 26:40

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CBC | Sports News

With ‘Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist,’ Jane Levy Finds Her Voice (Exclusive)

With ‘Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist,’ Jane Levy Finds Her Voice (Exclusive) | Entertainment Tonight

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Player’s Own Voice podcast: Carmelina Moscato kickstarts a league

Just because a challenge is easily understood, doesn’t mean it’s easily accomplished. 

Example? A professional soccer league for Canadian women. Canadians love watching its stars in FIFA  and Olympic play. Should be an open net, right?

Welcome to the daily dilemma for Carmelina Moscato, whose job is to make pro soccer happen in Canada, starting with League1 Ontario. The former national team star and internationally accredited coach comes on Player’s Own Voice podcast to break the situation down into manageable chunks.

Moscato is a first-principles kind of thinker. If you want to succeed in 10 years, you need robust systems that retain teenaged girls. A recent study shows female participation plummets at ages 10, 13 and 17. Young women who are elite athletes need a reasonable expectation that there are careers to pursue if they are going to practice and commit.

And how do universities play into the system? Why should Canadians have to head to the U.S. for scholarships? And what about a tier of women’s soccer leagues for lifetime participation and general health? And then there are all the ancilliary professions that a soccer nation needs: coaching, managing, training, physio, etc.

And while you are getting all those moving parts in place you also have to sway the prevailing mindset that men’s professional sports are an investment, while women’s pro sports are a tax write off. To do that right, you have to be in the boardrooms where those cheques are cut.

There’s nothing easy about any of that, but Moscato is persuasive and persistent. Anastasia Bucsis, host of CBC Sports’ Player’s Own Voice podcast, gets the playbook on making it happen.

Like the CBC Sports’ Player’s Own Voice essay series, POV podcast lets athletes speak to Canadians about issues from a personal perspective. To listen to this season and previous, subscribe at  iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Tune In or wherever you get your other podcasts.

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CBC | Sports News

Player’s Own Voice podcast: John Smythe says ‘don’t apologize’

John Smythe has a harrowing story to tell. The Canadian National field hockey player was emerging as a young contender when he developed a series of mysterious and painful symptoms — as he says — from gums to bum. Inflammation, extreme gut trouble ensued.

Crohn’s disease is not a straightforward diagnosis to make and it is not an easy disease to live with. For a high-performance athlete, it’s even more of a challenge. The physical stress of an intense workout all by itself can be enough to trigger flare-ups.

But after multiple surgeries and ultimately four years away from the sport, Smythe’s recuperation is lasting, and he has built the ability to quickly recognize symptoms and triggers. Crohn’s is chronic, but Smythe has kept it in remission, to the extent that he’s gearing up fully for the Canadian men’s competition in the Tokyo Olympics.

Smythe leads Player’s Own Voice Podcast host Anastasia Bucsis through the long and dramatic medical ordeal that has brought him to his current state of health.

Like the CBC Sports’ Player’s Own Voice essay series, POV podcast lets athletes speak to Canadians about issues from a personal perspective.  To listen to John Smythe and earlier guests this season, subscribe for free on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Tune In or wherever you get your other podcasts.

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CBC | Sports News

Like Colin Kaepernick, Gwen Berry knows athlete’s voice isn’t always welcomed

As American track and field athlete Gwen Berry stood on top of the podium after claiming gold in hammer throw during last summer’s Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru, she could no longer be the silent, well-behaved and compliant athlete the international sports system wanted her to be.

Wearing a blue jacket with the United States Olympic Committee crest on it, and blue lipstick to match, Berry stood watching the American flag rise as her national anthem blasted around the stadium.

In her moment of athletic glory, lyrics and ideals that are supposed to represent Berry had never felt so empty, and certainly did not reflect her reality as a black woman in the United States.

What happened next, Berry has a hard time explaining. She didn’t plan to raise her right fist, but the pain, hurt and years of systemic oppression took over every fibre within her body.

As “O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave” echoed, Berry lifted her fist to the sky, holding it aloft as the anthem finished.

“I just felt something. I don’t know what it was. When I was up there, I just felt something come over me. I can’t describe it,” Berry told CBC Sports from Houston. “It was like a spirit. I felt different. It was indescribable but I’ll never forget it or regret it.”


Berry knew there would be ramifications and that she would probably be vilified by many in her home country — in the same way more than 50 years prior Americans Tommie Smith and John Carlos were vilified for raising their fists on the podium at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City.

Or the same way NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick was vilified and labelled unpatriotic for kneeling during the American anthem in protest of police brutality.

“Martin Luther King was assassinated for going against the system. Kaepernick’s career was assassinated. His character was assassinated. What do we do to a system that assassinates our peaceful people?” Berry asked.

“After my stance, I lost about $ 50,000. It affected my family and how I’m able to take care of them. I lost sponsorships. My career has been assassinated too. Or at least they’re trying to assassinate it.”

The International Olympic Committee reprimanded Berry and put her on probation for 12 months, outlawing any other acts of protest for a year. 


U.S. athletes Tommie Smith, center, and John Carlos raise their gloved fists during a medal ceremony at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. (Associated Press)

In January, the IOC released its guidelines on protests during an Olympics. According to the Olympic Charter’s Rule 50, athletes are prohibited from taking a political stand in the field of play.

“It is a fundamental principle that sport is neutral and must be separate from political, religious or any other type of interference,” the IOC document states, urging “the focus for the field of play and related ceremonies must be on celebrating athletes’ performance.”

The IOC’s view is not shared by everyone.

Akaash Maharaj, former CEO of the Canadian equestrian team, has been an outspoken critic of what he says is hypocrisy shown by the IOC when it claims sport needs to be separate from politics.

“The IOC is guilty of hypocrisy in that statement,” Maharaj said. “There are few institutions as political as the IOC. If the IOC wants to take politics out of sport, then the IOC needs to take the IOC out of sport.”

Maharaj says the IOC is putting athletes in the difficult position of having to choose between representing their country and staying silent or speaking out and protesting against injustices.

“Silence in the face of injustice is complicity. And silence in the face of evil is itself evil,” he said.

While it took decades for Smith and Carlos to be remembered as heroes for that political gesture, raising awareness surrounding civil injustices against black people in America, Maharaj says their story is an important lesson for athletes today.

[Athletes] have to make terribly difficult choices if they are going to comply with the requirements of the IOC to remain silent or if they are going to use their voices.– Akaash Maharaj, former CEO of Canadian equestrian team

“They have to make terribly difficult choices if they are going to comply with the requirements of the IOC to remain silent or if they are going to use their voices. It’s a  difficult choice. Because today, just like in 1968, there will be a price to pay,”

A price Gwen Berry knows all too well, yet she says she won’t be silenced.

There have been so many moments throughout Berry’s life that have made her realize she needs to use her platform as an agent of change and to shed light on police brutality in the United States.

She grew up in Ferguson, the same Missouri city where 18-year-old Michael Brown was fatally shot by a white police officer in the summer of 2014. The shooting sparked weeks of protest and violent clashes with police.

“I went to the same parties as Mike Brown. I hung out with the same people. Went to the same school. Walked the same streets,” she said. “We grew up in the same area. That hit for me.”


Berry is training with hopes of competing at the Tokyo Olympics next summer. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

It hit so hard, Berry flew home from an overseas track and field event to walk in the streets night after night with protesters in her hometown.

“You could feel the tension on the street. I’ve never felt anything like that in my entire life. It was sad. People were sad and angry. And confused. How in the world did this happen?” Berry said.

“It was the most impactful thing I’ve experienced in my life and from that day forward I’ve become a rebel, if you want to call it that.”

There’s been no turning back ever since.

Gwen gave birth to her son, Derrick, when she was just 15 years old. He turns 16 on June 9 and Berry is doing her best to prepare him for what life is like as a black man in America.  

“I feel like the best way I can prepare my child and educate my child to be able to handle what’s going on, is going as far back as I can in history. I have to tell him the true history of America. I have to tell him about how people truly feel about him,” she said.


Berry’s son, Derrick, sports her Pan Am gold medal. (Photo courtesy Gwen Berry)

Berry, now 30, says the same injustices are playing out all over again with the death of George Floyd, a black man who pleaded for air as a police officer pressed a knee into his neck. His death in Minneapolis came after tensions had already flared after two white men were arrested in May for the February shooting death of black jogger Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, and the Louisville police shooting death of Breonna Taylor in her Kentucky home in March, which also attracted national attention.

Berry is devastated and exhausted by it all, unable to watch the video of Floyd gasping for air until days later.

“I didn’t want to see what I knew was going to happen. I finally watched it. I was mortified. I cried. And then asked what I could do,” she said.

Berry is in Houston, joining the protesters, all while continuing to train for the postponed Olympics in Tokyo.

“Nothing can change or will change until the system changes. And I feel like in my lifetime I will not see the total change of America. The system has to be burned to the ground. The entire system has to be rebuilt. The Constitution has to be redefined. We have to redefine what it means to be an American citizen,” Berry said.

“Let it burn. I absolutely stand with the rioters and protestors.”

Had the Olympics taken place this summer and had Berry made it there to compete, her probation period would still be in effect. But with the postponement of the Games, she will no longer be under probation for a potential podium protest in the summer of 2021.

“They better watch out,” she said. 

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CBC | Sports News

Player’s Own Voice podcast: Jayna Hefford leads the league

Jayna Hefford is the rare athlete whose work post competition threatens to overshadow her brilliant career.

And Hefford’s hockey days certainly warrant every superlative you can name: four consecutive Olympic gold medal, more career points than anyone other than Hayley Wickenheiser and she’s a natural captain, to boot.

There’s a reason why the best player in the league wins the Jayna Hefford trophy each year.

But Hefford’s challenge now goes straight to the core of almost every issue facing professional women in sport in Canada. As head of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association, Hefford leads 200 of the best players in the game toward the firm, but polite (she is Canadian, after all), demand for a living wage, more coverage, increased attendance and decent support staff and facilities in which to play. 

Everybody knows that the Canadian women’s hockey game is phenomenally good. And everybody’s got an opinion about what needs to happen to build a league that matches the quality and intensity of its players.

Anastasia Bucsis, host of the Player’s Own Voice podcast, leads Hefford to detail the latest volleys in the professional women’s hockey players’ struggle.

Like the CBC Sports’ Player’s Own Voice essay series, POV podcast lets athletes speak to Canadians about issues from a personal perspective. To listen to Jayna Hefford or earlier guests this season,  including Christine Sinclair and Jennfier Jones, subscribe for free on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Tune In or wherever you get your other podcasts.

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CBC | Sports News

Player’s Own Voice podcast: Jennifer Jones takes the 5th

According to her peers, teammates and adversaries, Jennifer Jones is the greatest female curler of all time. 

According to Anastasia Bucsis, host of Player’s Own Voice, ‘J- Jones’ is a strong contender for greatest podcast guest of all time — no matter what Ben Hebert might say in his own defence. 

The Manitoba skip recently negotiated the biggest free-agent transaction in curling history, bringing Lisa Weagle into her rink as a fifth. Curling fans were taken aback by the move: How much firepower can a team possibly have if Lisa Weagle is the fifth

Jones answers that question neatly on the podcast. The true value of the fifth is best revealed at the Olympics, so why wait to the last second to build the team that is going for gold on the biggest stage?

Jones also addresses her famous intensity, and helps us understand how being competitive can be compartmentalized. She insists that her focus on winning melts away when she’s off the ice. Fierce and friendly seems like an oxymoron, but Jones is living proof it can happen.

Like the CBC Sports’ Player’s Own Voice essay series, POV podcast lets athletes speak to Canadians about issues from a personal perspective. To listen to Jennifer Jones, or last week’s guests Christine Sinclair, subscribe for free on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Tune In or wherever you get your other podcasts.

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CBC | Sports News

Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher Can’t Stop Laughing During Hilarious Voice Swap Game With Jimmy Fallon

Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher Can’t Stop Laughing During Hilarious Voice Swap Game With Jimmy Fallon | Entertainment Tonight

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