The Jamaica senior national women’s Basketball team has started preparation to qualify for the 2012 World Olympics Games, to be held in London, England however the team is having difficulty securing funding to pay for basic necessitates like team uniform, equipment/balls, transportation, team insurance and accommodations.
Led by veteran national representative Simone Edwards, a US based basketball player who recently retired from a professional career with the WNBA Seattle Storm basketball team, Edwards is using her celebrity status to raise awareness about the team’s plight and the urgent need for financial help for the team.
“I appeal to all Jamaican companies and individuals at home and in the Diaspora to rally around the team and give us some financial support. Without funding our Olympic dream will not be realized. Sports has brought Jamaicans globally a sense of national pride and joy. Win or lose our athletes – in track & field, football, netball, cricket and swimming – have all done their best to make our country proud. I am just exhausted begging for support to represent my country each time we have to compete in a championship” a frustrated Edwards declared.
Although both male and female teams will begin their quest to compete at the 2012 Olympics, the men’s team has no problem securing sponsorship dollars even though the female team is ranked higher.
“I know there may never be equality with the men but at least there should be some sense of parity” she noted.
This summer, the team will represent Jamaica in two major tournaments to be held in Puerto Rico: the Centro basket Tournament from July 10 through 14 – top four teams qualifies for the 2011 FIBA Americas Championship which is the final qualifier for the 2012 World Olympics; and the Central American and Caribbean Games from July 15 through August 1 – qualifier for the 2011 Pan American Games. The squad will compete against perennial powerhouses Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Trinidad & Tobago and US Virgin Islands. The team is half-way towards their goal, but to get there they must compete in Puerto Rico and the Centro Tournament.
During the weekend of June 28 –July 7, 2010, the team will be hosting try-out sessions in the New York/New Jersey area for both competitions. Despite a four year hiatus from international tournaments, the women’s team is ranked by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) – the sport’s controlling body – as one of the top 50 female basketball teams in the world, and eleventh among the Caribbean/Latin American and North American/Central American countries. This ranking was based on their third place finish at the 2006 Centro Basket tournament held in Mexico City, and an eight place finish at the 2007 FIBA Americas Championship.