#BlackHistoryMonth with Dehara September: Advancing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Sport Community

Feb 23, 2024

Black History Month, every February, recognizes the significant cultural impact and contribution of Black people to Canadian Sport. For us at viaSport, this month is another opportunity in the year to spotlight the incredible, inspiring, and resilient Black Canadian athletes and coaches in the amateur sport community. In this article, we delve into the inspiring sport journey of Dehara September — a passionate and dedicated coach, athlete and mentor who has made a lasting impact in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the sport community.

As a Black athlete and coach, Dehara is no stranger to overcoming systematic hurdles throughout her career. Her personal struggles ignited a passion within her to advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion, not just for players but also for coaches in the world of soccer.

Dehara was introduced to soccer in her early years, playing on the pitch in her hometown of Burnaby, BC. She shares how the moment she was introduced to the game captivated her, “the grace, skill, and competitiveness on the pitch were inspiring to me.”

Dehara’s sport career flourished. At 12 years old, she received the award of Coastal Cup Girl — and by 15, she was playing on the BC Provincial Team. She then went on to play for the South African Women’s National team at 17 years old. Her sport career was full of milestones and accolades. She secured a full-ride scholarship to Milligan University in Tennessee, USA, played professionally for Newcastle United Football Club’s women’s team, and was awarded the Top African Canadian Female Player award by the African Canadian Soccer & Cultural Association.

Soccer was her passion, so after her playing career ended, Dehara naturally transitioned to coaching and mentoring. “I wanted to pass on the knowledge and values that soccer has instilled in me to the next generation of players,” Dehara says.

Dehara has worked tirelessly over the years to ensure sport can be a place for everyone. Through her resilience and unwavering determination, Dehara has taken mentorship roles with the Black Coaches Association of BC and served as the Executive Director of She Plays Sports Society and the Black Coaches & Administrators of BC.

However, Dehara’s coaching journey was not without challenges. She faced discrimination based on her gender and ethnicity. Despite this, Dehara was persistent and excelled in her coaching career. “I had to prove my abilities and expertise repeatedly, facing bias and stereotypes that unfortunately persist in the coaching community.”

Dehara became one of the few black female coaches in Women’s Premier, Women’s Selects, BC Soccer Premier League, and BC League 1. The Provincial government also nominated her for the BC Multiculturalism and Anti-Racism Awards for the “Breaking Barriers” category two years in a row. These accomplishments have further fueled Dehara’s drive to create positive change in the sport world.

“Being a Black athlete and coach holds profound significance to me,” Dehara says. “As a Black individual in sport, I carry the responsibility of being a trailblazer, using my platform to promote equity, challenge discrimination, and inspire others to pursue their dreams despite obstacles.”

Dehara continues to inspire Black athletes and coaches to forge a path for themselves in the world of sport. “Embrace your identity with pride, for your heritage is a source of strength and inspiration,” Dehara says. “Above all, believe in yourself and your abilities, for self-confidence is the cornerstone of achievement. Let your journey inspire others and work towards a more inclusive and equitable future for all in the world of sports.”