|14 April 2014|
|FIBA Europe Secretary General Kamil Novak with women's basketball ambassadors Hana Horakova, Ilona Korstin, Edwige Lawson-Wade and Amaya Valdemoro|
FIBA Europe Secretary General Kamil Novak used the final day of action at the EuroLeague Women Final Eight as a backdrop to have a chat with the newly appointed FIBA Europe Women's Ambassadors.
Novak met with the four ambassadors - Amaya Valdemoro, Ilona Korstin, Hana Horakova and Edwige Lawson-Wade - shortly before tip-off of the bronze medal clash between UMMC Ekaterinburg and Tango Bourges Basket.
The four ambassadors would later in the day be given their own moment in the spotlight when they were presented to the public at half-time in the gold medal game. A special applause was saved for Horakova who had previously experienced success in DIVS Arena when she played for UMMC.
During the conversation with the ambassadors, Novak explained the fundamental purpose of their new position which is to interact with young female players and promote basketball to them as a viable career path, as both a player and beyond when their playing days come to an end.
"For varying reasons, a concerningly high number of women's players are failing to go on and continue playing past youth level," stated Novak, adding, "We need to address this issue and remind them that being a professional player is far from easy, but the rewards are plentiful and there is a future for them in the sport."
Taking on this challenge, the quartet will be spreading the message and educating youth at FIBA Europe women's youth tournaments over the summer.
The ambassadors talked about their own motivations to become involved in ambassadorial roles for FIBA Europe, with the overriding theme being to provide young women players with female role models, something Valdemoro explained, was missing when she was growing up playing.
"When I started playing there was no internet and it was difficult to find out about women's players. Instead I had to pick male players as my role models," stated Valdemoro, with the other ambassadors agreeing in unison.
A slightly different motivation for Lawson-Wade is to address the old adage that size does not matter, with the 1.67m former guard explaining, "I want the girls to realise that anyone can play this sport regardless of height or size."
|The FIBA Europe ambassadors attended the UMMC Basketball Academy on Saturday|
On Saturday, Korstin, Lawson-Wade and Horakova undertook their first outing under the banner of their new roles, attending a clinic at the UMMC basketball academy in Ekaterinburg.
"It was important that the children were able to touch us and ask us questions and realise that we are real people," explained Korstin, smiling as she reminisced about the day previous.
When presented with the question about if they miss their playing days, Horakova, Lawson-Wade and Korstin answered collectively with a resounding no.
However, Valdemoro admitted that the transition into retirement has been difficult and has only recently been able to bring herself to watching women's basketball again, adding jokingly, that "I came to the Final Eight to finish the rehabilitation process."
"Sometimes I do miss it when I see a big game and I want to be part of it...but then I begin to think of the three months away from home and all the travel and practice games [to get to that game] and I do not miss it anymore," added Horakova to provide some perspective.