Athlete Rep Spotlight: Byron Green – Wheelchair Rugby

It’s Our Turn, AthletesCAN’s new marketing campaign focuses on the stories of athlete leaders across the 68 sports eligible for AthletesCAN membership. The campaign highlights a pivotal moment for a new era in sport governance, underlining the athlete representatives’ respective journeys into the athlete advocacy movement both in their careers and within their National Sport Organizations (NSOs).

Each week, AthletesCAN profiles a key athlete leader among its membership, highlighting how athlete representation has played a significant role in their career and within their National Sport Organization.

Byron Green

Name: Byron Green
Sport: Wheelchair Rugby
Position / Event: 0.5
National team tenure: 2013 – Present
Hometown: Comox, B.C.

How did you first hear about and get involved in your sport?

I was first exposed to wheelchair rugby while I was going through rehab in 2001. I broke my neck and it resulted in a spinal cord injury. I spent about a year in rehab and my therapist at the time, a gentleman by the name of Duncan Campbell, introduced me to the sport, of wheelchair rugby. And funny enough, he is actually one of the inventors of the sport, which is super cool. Not a lot of people can say that they were introduced to a sport by one of the creators of it, so I’m pretty proud of that. Duncan is an amazing guy, so I’m really fortunate to have that connection with him. I got involved going through rehab, but it wasn’t until a couple of years later when Duncan reached out again. I had moved to Vancouver for a university and he told me about this new intro to Wheelchair Rugby night that was starting up. And I started going out to that and I was hooked.

Why is it important for the Canadian Sport System to prioritize an athlete-centred experience?

I think it’s important for the Canadian sports system to focus on an athlete-centric experience because really, sports are about the athletes. We’re the ones participating in it, driving it forward, growing the game. And we have a lot of great ideas. And, you know, there’s a lot of great people within within sports across Canada. We have a lot to give and we have some really innovative ideas and ways to grow the game, whatever sport that is. So if we can empower our athletes to to have impact on decisions around everything to do with sports, I think it’s just going to improve the experience for everybody and get more Canadians involved in sport, which is huge. That would be it would have such a beneficial effect across our country. So yeah, I think empowering our athletes it is the way to go.

How have you used your athlete voice on behalf of your peers and how has it impacted your sport journey?

I’ve been pretty fortunate in my in my experience with wheelchair rugby that I’ve been given the opportunity to have a bit more of a voice. I serve as the athlete rep on our board of directors for Wheelchair Rugby Canada. So I’ve been really fortunate to have some input on the decision-making process at that level and then recently Wheelchair Rugby Canada and myself, we started an athlete council. So we’re really happy with that step and really proud that I could, you know, be a part of that process and creation of Athletes Council that will help support, help steer and guide Wheelchair Rugby Canada moving forward into the future with decision making and trying to improve the experience for wheelchair rugby athletes all across Canada.

What is your favourite memory being an Athlete Rep / being involved in athlete advocacy? 

My favourite memory of being involved In that realm of things is to see the impact that I have had at the grassroots level. Just when I can get a new person involved in the sport, whoever that is, and whatever their goals are around the sport, it’s just really empowering to see someone falling in love with with with an activity like, like wheelchair rugby that gets them active it connects them to a group of like-minded peers and it just can have so many beneficial impacts on that person’s life. So that’s why it really stands out to me as that as favorite memory.

What have you learned about being a leader in your sport?

To surround yourself with good people. Because you know, there’s always so much to do. So if you can really have a good support network around yourself and and enable other people to do what they do best, I think that’s the sign of a good leader. I’ve been guilty in the past of trying to do everything myself and feeling like that’s what a leader should do. But I think it’s as I’ve learned over the years, that is it is the exact opposite. And you should be trying to empower other people to do what they do best and to help achieve a common goal.

Why should your peers join AthletesCAN and/or get more involved in the leadership of their National Sport Organization?

I would really encourage any athlete in Canada that is feeling like they want to learn more about like getting into governance or just having a bit more of a voice to reach out to AthletesCAN. There’s such a wealth of information there, and I know early on in my journey I didn’t have a clue about a lot of things. Right. It’s all about learning and and tapping into people that that can share their experiences with you. And AthletesCAN has a wealth of that. So definitely reach out and either go to one of the annual conferences or just reach out for help. I know that actually back on creation of our Athletes Council, I relied on the terms of reference that AthletesCAN has on their website. And, you know, use that as a starting place and then just modified it to fit for our needs. So yeah, just an example of what AthletesCAN, can do to help out and, and just empower athletes.