U SPORTS sits down with one key athlete, coach, and staff member of each U SPORTS athletic program in our interview series “Getting to know…”
- Name: Bleska Kambamba
- School: Western
- Sport: Football
- Position: Defensive Back
- Year of eligibility: 4
- Program: Kinesiology
- Hometown: London, Ont.
1. What attracted you to Western?
Western is home, it’s kind of in my backyard. When I started looking into universities and programs, it wasn’t too much of a hard choice. The campus, football tradition, and most importantly the purple pride played a huge part.
2. What’s your favourite memory, and your greatest athletic achievement as a U SPORTS student-athlete?
Easy! Winning the Vanier Cup in 2017. After back-to-back Yates Cup losses in 2015 and 2016, it was initially satisfying getting over that hump, then you realize we can do something special. The atmosphere was intense, everyone was locked in, and ready to sacrifice for each other.
3. Where are you hoping your path will take you after university?
I’ve always wanted to ensure I do something that is fulfilling to me, beyond a paycheck. I’ve always enjoyed working with kids, so teaching would be great.
With the help of wonderful friends, I started The Garden Initiative. The goal is to provide underprivileged kids sport opportunities through leadership development, nutrition, community engagement and mentorship. Opportunities that I was lucky enough to have. There’s so much we can do to get kids active and help them maintain these healthy habits. It starts with everyone having the right to play, and the right play at a high level, regardless of the background information.
4. Who’s had the greatest influence on your athletic career?
My parents, and when I say that I mean it as two different entities.
My dad loves sports, and is critical and often picks my brain about strategies. My mom is the type to be on the jumbotron dancing whether we’re up by 30 or down by 30. They’ve always given me everything I needed to participate which I’m tremendously grateful for. They also always give me a little phone call before game day, even if they know I get semi-antisocial before games.
5. Who is someone in the sports world, past or present, with whom you’d love to have dinner with? Why?
There was a headline not long ago, where a reporter told Lebron James to “Shut up and dribble.”
Ali – the world’s most famous athlete – heavyweight champion, refused to shut up in the middle of a Civil Rights Movement. He gave the average person the strength to stand up against segregation and racial injustice. As a black man, I’d like to think I would have had the courage to do what he did.
6. What is your pre-game ritual? Do you have any superstitions/idiosyncrasies around preparing yourself for a game?
I always lay my feet on the base of the uprights before games. I meditate and listen to some peaceful piano pieces. After a while, I give the padding a hug, then I get back inside and let loose with a lot of dancing. Before the game, I try to salute my coaches and pump up my teammates. Then I do a lot of yelling.
7. What’s your go-to song to get pumped up for practice or a game?
Anything I can dance to and The Ecstasy of Gold really makes me feel like we’re in an episode of Game of Thrones.
8. What’s your favourite social media account to follow?
I really can’t choose. Depends on the time of day, weather and general mood.
9. If you could try another sport, what would it be and why?
I’ve never actually tried to play ice hockey, but I know after a few thousand hours of training, I’d be lethal. Because Canada.
10. What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you as an athlete?
The entirety of first year training camp!