When Régis Cibasu was three years old, his parents left the Congo in hopes of a better life for their family in Canada. Along with his three brothers, he grew up in a difficult neighbourhood in Southwest Montréal.
As a young boy, he had an early curfew, hardly ever went out on weekends and made sure he went to church every Sunday. Exceptions to these rules were rare. Cibasu was not fond of these conditions, but as he grew older he realized why his parents had enforced these rules.
“My parents kept me off the streets and the fact that I was so wrapped up in football really helped me stay away from bad influences,” he says.
The neighbourhood clearly had some rougher areas, but there was a love for basketball and football in the southwest of Montréal. Young people were getting increasingly involved in sports. Régis was 10 when he fell in love with what would later become the main focus of his life: football.
Because his parents were from the Congo, they didn’t know much about the sport. What was most important for them is that their son was happy and playing sports rather than hanging out in the streets like most of his peers.
“As I was growing up, I saw many of my childhood friends fall prey to the street life,” says Régis.
Unlike his peers, Régis concentrated on his passion from a very young age and has always had a strong character.
“I think the way his parents brought him up had a huge influence on his behaviour,” recalls his best friend, Wilkins Blemur. “We never had to hang out on the street and when we started going out as we grew older, he sometimes chose to go for a run or play basketball instead.”
When asked what his best friend was like growing up, Blemur remembers a disciplined Cibasu.
“We met in our first year of high school and we all used to goof around, but Régis was always able to keep his priorities straight. As we grew older, he was serious about his schoolwork and was very disciplined. He was back then and still is now; it’s how he’s always been.”
Cibasu’s character helped him overcome the many challenges he has faced. He started his football career as an offensive lineman and when he looks back on those days, he is proud.
When he started at university, he had an immediate impact as a wide receiver. He was named an RSEQ First Team All-Star and was also selected as the conference’s Rookie of the Year in 2014. That same year, Université de Montréal won the Vanier Cup and Cibasu was named the Ted Morris Memorial Trophy winner as MVP, which was a significant accomplishment.
“It was really a team effort,” he says. “We worked so hard. Many players could have been named MVP and it’s a real treat to have been chosen.”
But that was only the beginning for Cibasu. Since his rookie season, he has been in the Carabins’ starting lineup for every single game. He is also the most prolific wide receiver of the university’s history and is the school’s all-time leader in catches and receiving yards.
“The one word that comes to mind when thinking of Régis is workhorse,” says teammate Kevin Kaya. “He has excellent physical abilities and has never taken training lightly, whether at the gym, during position-specific training or while analyzing video. He puts in the hours. I’m very happy for him and I hope he achieves his dreams…He has everything he needs to succeed and to make it to where he wants to go.”
Cibasu continues to inspire students and athletes on campus and throughout Canada. Ever since he first laced up his cleats, he has been a role model. He is one of two U SPORTS players, along with Alberta offensive lineman Mark Korte to have received an invitation to the East-West Shrine Game last January.
“I’m so grateful for the opportunity. I played with American players and I learned a lot of tips that I can now apply to my game.”
Cibasu was also selected by the Toronto Argonauts during last May’s CFL Draft. But he’s leaving the door open to a possible run in the NFL and will take full advantage of his final year with the Carabins.
“Régis is a role model for all student-athletes in every way you can think of,” says Carabins head coach Danny Maciocia. “His desire to be the best on and off the field is unparalleled. He’s not a man of many words, but his actions speak for themselves. There’s no doubt that he has a bright future ahead of him at the next level and that he’ll have success on and off the field. It was a great pleasure to coach him, but especially to get to know him.”