Esther Wender - "A Weekend In Italy"

06 November 2006

Esther Wender Esther Wender is the Year of Women's Basketball Project Manager. In her first blog, she provides an update about the Year of Women's Basketball project and gives her first-hand account of the successful Basket in the City event held in France.

November 6, 2006

Last week I attended the draw for EuroBasket Women 2007. A number of my colleagues from FIBA Europe and I travelled to Chieti for this important event. Of course we brought our Year of Women's Basketball promotional materials to give some hot pink colour to the event.

On Saturday morning, prior to the draw, we organised the Year of Women's Basketball Coffee Hour where the project was explained to a mixed crowd consisting of members of the LOC, the FIBA Europe Women’s Commission and other interested attendees. My colleague Kevin Anselmo moderated the event and was able to get some good comments from the participants.

The EuroBasket Women 2007 draw was held at the beautiful university of Chieti. Before the official part of the draw began, the moderator asked three very distinguished guests in the audience. Dino Meneghin, legend of Italian men’s basketball, Sara Simeone, Olympic Champion high jump in 1980 and Mara Fullin, former top player and Italian face of the Year of Women’s Basketball, to come onto the stage. They received a long lasting round of applause from the crowd and several great pictures were taken of these three super sports legends. It was very nice to see that in Italy, former top stars are treated with the respect they deserve!

Italian head coach Gianni Lambruschi
Italian head coach Gianni Lambruschi was quite nervous during the draw.
EuroBasket Women 2007 will be played in four different venues and each city was presented with a promotional video. High-placed politicians underlined their desire and gratitude to be involved in this great basketball event while the musical entertainment was provided by a very good Italian singer. I also got the chance to once again address the crowd about the Year of Women’s Basketball. I will not let any opportunity to do so go by! We need to keep the importance and targets of the project fresh in everybody’s mind.

The actual draw of the participating teams into their gorups lasted only for a few minutes. I was seated next to Gianni Lambruschi, the Italian head coach. He was quite tense as he saw his team ending up in a tough group with Russia, France and Greece. Also both the French and Russian representatives were astonished that once again they were teamed up in the same group. Is it good or bad to meet strong opponents in the first round? Depends on how you look at it. Three out of four teams qualify for the next round so if you survive the first round, at least you know you will not meet the same opponents any time soon in the tournament.

EuroBasket Women 2007 promises to be a great event. The difference between the countries is becoming smaller and at the same time, the overall level of European basketball is increasing. During the World Championship in Brasil last September, all five European teams ended in the top eight! I rest my case.

On the Sunday after the draw, I attended the first FIBA Europe Women’s Commission meeting in its new composition. New president Ivan Bodrogvary led his first meeting and the Year of Women’s Basketball was the main topic on the agenda. A quick run down of YOWB activities by the national federations showed that Italy is very involved. Besides organizing EuroBasket Women next year, they have also created a special women’s basketball commission that is always looking for new innovative ways to promote the sport in their country. One such example is an article in Donna In Forma, a monthly women’s magazine, in which members of the Italian national team promoted a new line of lingerie. Mor information can be found here. I think it is a good thing to underline the fact that female basketball players are attractive. Besides being tough and strong women on the court, they are first and foremost women!

During the FIBA Europe Women’s Commission meeting we also discussed some of the necessary next steps to take the Year of Women’s Basketball to the next level. We spoke about the possibilities of more feminine uniforms for players, the harmonisation of league calendars, organisation of a European-wide opening event for all leagues, implementation of new technologies and the application of more social activities. The goals of all these steps is to create a clear European identity for women’s basketball! As stated earlier, European basketball counts!

In Chieti, we also met with the LOC of EuroBasket Women to discuss some of the ideas we have for the Year of Women’s Basketball during EuroBasket Women as it officially marks the end of the project. We will work closely together with the LOC and the Italian federation to make sure that the Grand Finale of the project will not be forgotten easily. Of course it does not mean that FIBA Europe will stop promoting women’s basketball as of September 2007. The Year of Women’s Basketball is really only the beginning of a larger effort to make the gap between men’s and women’s basketball smaller.

Until the next time,

Esther Wender
Project Manager Year of Women’s Basketball

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19th October 2006

The Year of Women’s Basketball (YOWB) was launched seven months ago during the very first EuroLeague Women All-Star Game in Pecs, Hungary.

Since the tip-off, a lot has happened. The first goal was to get the modern logo out into the market. People had to see the logo and become interested and curious about what the project entails.

On one side, FIBA Europe promoted the logo during its events (and will continue to do so) and on the other hand, the 50 federations were asked to do the same at a local level. Examples of these efforts can be read on the special YOWB section on fibaeurope.com.

One of the objectives of the YOWB is to create a European identity for women’s basketball. One important tool to achieve this goal is the organisation of a central season opener, where all the games of the first round of the season are played in one location.

Basket in the City
All teams in the French League took part in the Basket in the City event.

This past weekend I witnessed such a season opener in France. The LFB (Ligue Féminin de Basket) decided to play their first round games in Paris.

I was very impressed by the professional way the event was organised. All players arrived on Friday and a special press conference was held in the early evening where I was able to address the crowd about the YOWB and all teams were asked about the expectations of the upcoming season.

On Saturday the games started surrounded by a good crowd and great fan entertainment. A large number of sponsors/vip’s were present and were able to see that the French league is very strong. Besides playing, some players also participated in a number of social actions.

It was very good to see representatives from Italy, Belgium, Romania and Ireland who came especially to Paris to learn about organising this opening event.

Some of the other European countries that have already organised an opening event are Germany, Ireland, Holland and Italy. It is my goal that in 2007 all federations will organise this event.

In my opinion, it is a great and fairly easy way to bring focus to the women’s game and to catch the attention of the public and media.

To have all the players (and directives) present in one location, allows you to do photo shoots, press conferences and possible social actions such as visiting a children’s hospital (like in France), giving clinics to schools etc. Besides that, the players seem to like to see the other players, catch up and scout their future opponents.

Speaking of Italy, this country is of course very important for women’s basketball in the next year or so as the EuroBasket Women will be played there in September 2007.

This promises to become a great event with very strong competition.

Five of the participating teams ended in the top eight teams at the World Championships held past September in Brazil. I am sure everyone remembers the semi final win of the Russian teams against team USA. What a great result! I think that the European teams have (more than) gained the respect they deserve in worldwide basketball.

The draw for EuroBasket Women 2007 will take place on October 28 in Chieti and FIBA Europe will take advantage of this event to further promote the Year of Women’s Basketball.

Before the draw an informal “YOWB Breakfast” will be organised for the press. Al participating teams are allowed to send a journalist to Chieti so we expect a good turnout.

Just before the draw, I will be able to address the representatives for a few minutes about the project and the actual draw will be done by important women in Italian basketball such as Mara Fullin, former super player and current role model for the Year of Women’s basketball in Italy.

Besides that, the room where the draw will be held will be very pink, YOWB pink!

In my next blog I will do into more details about some of the Year of Women’s Basketball activities that have already taken place in various European countries.

So see you next time!

Esther


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