An interview with Canadian Rugby Sevens player, Pam Buisa

Featured in VIPIRG’s October Premium Newsletter

Interview by Avie Olarte.

Pam is a Canadian rugby sevens player. As a member of the Canada women's national team, she has won a gold medal at the 2019 Pan American Games and a silver medal at the Youth Olympics in China in 2014. Born in Ottawa and grew up Gatineau Quebec, Pam is known for her crucial role of bringing strength to the rugby team, catapulting it into one of the top programs in Canada. She is now preparing for the World Series in Dubai and South Africa in December. 

Apart from winning those medals, you have an outstanding career with the Vikes team at UVic. How did your love for the sport start?

Early on I did ballet and dance. Then in middle school I played basketball. I was very aggressive. One day I was playing basketball and the school rugby coach was watching us play and he said, “Why don't you try rugby because you are allowed to be aggressive.” I tried it out (in junior high) and never looked back. 

When you first tried it you liked it instantly? 

Yes, it was really fun. I was quite young when I started but being big at that age I became pretty self-conscious about how tall I was. I found a space where I could be myself, thrive in an environment where I could be welcomed for my body type -- that you're strong or you're fast; everybody has a role. It was what got me into it. 

(In middle school) I was the tallest in my class. I was always really tall. I started when I was in Grade 7 (at 13 yo), I was 5'7. In rugby, my skill set is about my physicality. Because I am taller, catching the ball in the air I have to have aerial skills; when I have the ball in the hand, to fend people, my range is quite long and so because of a bigger body I am also harder to tackle. 

From then on, was that the sole sport you played and built your career out of?

I did volleyball and basketball in high school but volleyball got expensive and there were opportunities in rugby. I was playing volleyball at the regional level and I wanted to play at the provincial level and at that time it was really expensive to move up because you have talent but financially it was expensive. The fees to play are expensive.

At the time my first love was volleyball. Basketball was something I was really good at too. But I had to start picking as it was getting expensive to play three sports competitively. 

How did you end up choosing rugby?

Being identified early on, when I played for my high school, I was recommended to play for the regional team. I played for Ottawa Irish and then I was identified provincially to play for Team Quebec. They said, "Oh you have a talent, why don't you try out?" I tried out and I made it on the Quebec provincial team. Later, …

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