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Dumba eager to use platform to lead charge for more diversity in hockey

Wild defenseman is one of seven current or former NHLers as part of Hockey Diversity Alliance

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe / Wild.com

Matt Dumba has never been one to shy away from using his platform as a professional athlete as a tool for doing good. 

Over the past six years, Dumba has put his money where his mouth is, donating plenty of game checks, but also his time and energy, into causes that are near and dear to him.

The death of George Floyd last month in Minneapolis, and the calls to action that has followed in the weeks since, opened Dumba's eyes even more to the ability he has to be an agent for positive change. 

That's one of the reasons why Dumba, along with six others, have founded the Hockey Diversity Alliance, a group of current and former pro hockey players who have one mission: to eradicate racism and intolerance in hockey. 

Akim Aliu and current San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane have been appointed as co-heads of the Hockey Diversity Alliance. Dumba, along with former Wild players Chris Stewart and Joel Ward, along with Trevor Daley and Wayne Simmonds are on the executive committee. 

Video: Dumba on his commitment to changing the game

"Just a group of guys who know each other or played against each other at some point, talking for a need for this and for the NHL," Dumba said. "[With] the stuff we've faced in the past, we want to eradicate that from our sport, starting with the youth because that's where we had our first incidents of racism.

"Just hearing the guys' stories, it brought up so many feelings, just passionate stuff and rekindled those memories that weren't always the greatest. When we were talking about creating this group, hearing those stories was all I really needed to be on the board and know that we were doing the right thing."

Dumba's father is white, but his mother is of Filipino descent, which puts him in the small minority of NHLers who aren't caucasian. According to a USA Today story in November of 2018, 97 percent of NHL players are white.

Dumba said the work of the HDA will dovetail nicely with the work he has done for another cause that is important to him, ACES (Athletes Committed to Educating Students). As part of his role as a player representative, Dumba has lead educational efforts on behalf of the Wild and served as a role model for ACES' students in the Twin Cities. 

"Some of the kids from ACES, they live in those communities [that have been effected by events the past few weeks]," Dumba said. "The same thing goes for me. I feel like I'm a part of that community and they have welcomed me with open arms. I want to be able to give back ... and try to show support for those people that are in need of it."

One of the goals of the Hockey Diversity Alliance is to promote diversity at all levels of the game. To do that, the group will use community outreach and engagement with youth. The hope is, that will make the game more accessible and more affordable for more people. 

It's at that young age where Dumba and the HDA believes real change can begin to take hold. As those kids grow older, so too will acceptance and understanding. 

But the HDA won't limit itself to simply working with kids. It will try and forge new path forward with all age groups in an effort to embrace diversity in the sport.

Video: Matt Dumba chats with the media

"To promote that diversity throughout all levels of the game, it really starts with community outreach," Dumba said. "Trying to engage the youth and making hockey more accessible for them and more affordable. I want everyone to truly feel like hockey can be a sport for anyone who wants to participate."

Together, the group will focus on educating the hockey community about race issues confronting the sport. 

Inspiring the next generation of hockey players is another objective, with the goal of eliminating race, gender and socioeconomic backgrounds as limiting factors in playing and supporting hockey. 

"If we can make it more diverse, and include these kids so they can learn about hockey and not feel like an outcast, I think that would be so cool," Dumba said. "We can tap into a group of kids that I know, and I hope, can share the same love for the game that I do."

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