Bo de la Cruz

Photo: NITV

'We are dominating in all codes': Bo de la Cruz on the rise of Indigenous women in sport

The former touch, rugby union and rugby league player chats to us ahead of a new season of Over the Black Dot.

It’s been a decade since Bo de la Cruz was named the National Indigenous Sportswoman of the Year. These days, the former touch, rugby union and rugby league player is kicking goals away from the field, particularly as a television commentator.

As a proud descendant of the Gudjula and Erubian people, she insists her mission is still the same – to advocate for more First Nations representation in sport. 

“A lot of people thought my natural progression was going to be in coaching,” she tells Missing Perspectives. “And I actually did too, until I found my love for media and especially around the First Nations space and wanting to shine a brighter light on First Nations people – and what better way to do it than through the sport I love, rugby league?”

The mother-of-three returns to the small screen tonight for a brand new season of Over the Black Dot, NITV’s flagship rugby league program celebrating the achievements of First Nations players. As an analyst on the show that’s hosted by Dean Widders, Bo proudly helps fill a gap she noticed on Australian television back in the day.

“I didn't see a lot of Blak faces on TV growing up. There was nothing that anyone [like me] aspired to,” she says, explaining she felt the “shame factor” of being on the screen as an Indigenous person. 

Now being that representation she yearned to see in her earlier years, she says her motivation is to quash this sense of shame or the idea that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people don’t belong, both on TV and in the sporting arena. 

Reflecting on her career as a professional sportswoman, she mentions she was “the only Indigenous female in the Australian touch team”. 

“Then I was the only one not from New South Wales and Queensland because I was born and raised in the Northern territory…  not from any of the really strong states where the sport was huge.” 

Bo explains she was aware she was “moving into that space where I really knew that I was different” and that she faced “a bit of racism” while playing for different teams.

Despite facing this adversity, she was determined to push through. “I knew that if I didn't do it, who was going to? It was to help the next generation coming through in any sport, especially within the female space.” 

Over The Black Dot presenter Bo de la Cruz

Bo de la Cruz. Photo: NITV

Speaking of the new generation, Bo observes that there are "so many strong Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women coming through" in sport.

"I'm an assistant coach at the Future Titans Female Academy with the Gold Coast Titans. There's Northern Rivers girls coming up... through Lismore, Ballina. I've had the pleasure of commentating them at the Koori Knockout. From the way they've played, they've then cemented their spots in these academies.

"I sit back and I just shake my head because there's so many of them now, and I just love the fact that we are dominating in all codes."

As she prepares for a new season on TV, the commentator says her analysis on Over The Dot will go beyond game results and player performance. 

“The main focus is highlighting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women within the game, and not just on the field, but also what they're doing off the field,” she shares.

“It's going to be an exciting year in rugby league. We've got fresh new faces, but also old faces coming back. I'm just glad the show's back on and I’m able to highlight our deadly brothers and sisters that are coming up through the ranks as well as playing at the top. I just can't wait.” 

Over the Black Dot airs weekly from Tuesday 5 March, live at 9:30pm on NITV and SBS On Demand.