|13 April 2014|
BASKETBALL IN EUROPE
|The FIBA Europe ambassadors rolled their sleeves up in Ekaterinburg to help out at the UMMC Academy|
FIBA Europe Women's Basketball ambassadors took time out from promoting the main event at the EuroLeague Women Final Eight to call into the UMMC Ekaterinburg Academy in Verkhnyaya Pyshma.
The quartet enjoyed lending a hand in coaching 50 youth players at a mini-tournament, with some of the ambassadors even briefly getting back onto the court in a playing capacity to lead the youngsters by example.
Les Bleus legend Edwige Lawson-Wade won the EuroLeague Women title with Samara in 2005 and she was there with Russian national team legend, Ilona Korstin and former UMMC player and FIBA Europe Player of the Year, Hana Horakova who are both also former winners of the tournament.
Meanwhile the other popular figure on the day was Natasa Kovacevic, who began her role as the FIBA Europe Youth Ambassador.
After some coaching and mini-games at the purpose-built Arena which serves as the base for all UMMC youth basketball and occasionally EuroLeague Women games for the senior team too, the participants were all presented with gifts and then had the chance to speak to the ambassadors afterwards.
Hosted by UMMC General Manager, Maxim Ryabkov, the event was attended by acting FIBA Europe President Cyriel Coomans, FIBA Europe Secretary General Kamil Novak and FIBA Europe board member Lena Wallin-Kantzy.
"When we appointed our ambassadors I was interested to see how it would work in practice, but we have now seen how very important this project is," said Mr Coomans.
"To watch the girls be so happy and spending so much time waiting patiently to get photos and autographs after the tournament had finished was amazing and very special."
Meanwhile Mr Novak added, "These girls may not all necessarily continue with basketball, but they will certainly not forget this day for a long, long time.
"What the ambassadors have done is show their value of being role models and also inspiring young players.
"Even if all the girls involved don't play professionally or continue playing, we hope that by being inspired they will stay in the game in some capacity - whether as a future coach, referee or a spectator.
"It's certainly a great facility and project which UMMC have."