FROM being a former figure skater to being recognized as an international figure in the rough-and-tumble and male-dominated sport of rugby, Ada Milby, indeed, has gone a long way.
The Filipino-American, who has been the Philippine Rugby Football Union secretary general since 2014, was cited by the globally-circulated World Rugby magazine as among “The 50 Most Influential People in Rugby 2020” in its August edition published last Tuesday.
A member of the national women’s squad that copped a silver medal in the last 30th Southeast Asian Games, the comely lady was recognized by the 60-year-old and London-based publication for her administrative leadership and skills.
“She (Milby) has played rugby sevens and 15s and coached the national team in the Philippines,” it said, “(but) it is through her administrative roles, though, that she is able to make the biggest impact. She works on growing the game as part of Asia Rugby’s executive committee and chair of its general inclusion commission.”
Milby, a former staff sergeant in the US Army and a Business Administration graduate at Debry University, is the lone woman on the five-man Asia Rugby executive committee.
The magazine article also noted that she “became the first woman to sit on the World Rugby Council in 2017. Asia can be a huge growth market for rugby and Milby has a central role to play (in the region).”
“I am really, really humbled and completely surprised by the honor. I was neither approached nor asked to be nominated until someone messaged me last Tuesday that I got the recognition (by Rugby World),” Milby said. “I was really, really surprised.
“I’m still relatively young and new to rugby at the global level so I’m very happy with this honor,” added the elder sister of matinee idol Sam Milby, who celebrated her 37th birthday last July 6.
Noting the vast difference between her childhood sport of figure skating and rugby, which she took up during her college days, Milby said: “Rugby and figure skating are actually both contact sports but the only difference is the ice doesn’t hit you back.
“Your fall on the ice is pretty hard while falling on the grass is much softer.”
Following the success of the national rugby teams in the last SEA Games, with the Volcanoes ruling the men’s event, Milby said this honor “is a huge boost for the Philippines on the map as a global sport. It gives us the momentum that we had in the SEA Games for both and women.
“I hope we can use this as a platform to grow rugby more locally and also as a call to action for Filipinos all over the world and leverage the talent that we have for Filipinos everywhere.”
She acknowledged the fact that it continues to be a challenge locally to shed rugby’s image as a masculine sport “that is deeply embedded in the socio-cultural values that we have in the Philippines.