“This is a really exciting summer for me and for the women’s team, said Kim Smith at a recent press conference. “In my 10 years on the national team I have had the chance to play in Canada only once before. This summer we have the opportunity to bring in not one but two national teams. It really is our dream as a women’s team to get a chance to compete in our home country. We want the chance to show what we can do. We have made some great strides and we’re looking to turn some heads this summer.”
The games begin July 17 at the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) in Abbotsford, BC with Canada taking on Chile. On July 19, the same teams will go head to head at the Richmond Olympic Oval in Richmond, BC. This game will mark the first time that the venue will host an international exhibition basketball game for the Canadian National Team. The Canadians will then face the Swedish National Team July 27 at UFV and July 29 at the Richmond Olympic Oval. (See promotional poster attached).
“The Richmond Olympic Oval is an icon for inspiration and change,” says John Mills, General Manager of the Richmond Olympic Oval. “To see the Canada Senior Women’s National team perform at the Oval July 19 and 29th will inspire many members of our community to pursue sport, health or wellness goals, from trying basketball for the first time to saying ‘I’m going to make that team some day.’”
Tickets are on sale now and are extremely affordable, ranging in price from $5 for children to $12 for adults, with a special student rate of $9 for both venues. To purchase tickets for the UFV games, fans can visit the Abbotsford Visitor Centre at 3461 Delair Road in Abbotsford, BC or call 604-859-1721. For games at the Richmond Olympic Oval tickets can be purchased at the venue located at 6111 River Road, Richmond, BC or by calling 778-296-1400.
The SWNT is currently training at UFV in preparation for these domestic games and ultimately the FIBA World Championship for Women. McNeill, who has coached 128 games for Team Canada is thrilled about the development of her athletes over the past 10 years, including back-to-back qualifications to the biggest global basketball tournament.
“I’m just so proud of this group to qualify in 2006 [the first time that Canada has qualified in 12 years] and to qualify back-to-back is not that easy,” added McNeill at the press event. “We’ve come a long way in 10 years and I am very proud of the cohesion this group has the toughness that they have and anybody who comes to watch them play is going to love how it looks. They’re going to love how they play because they play hard and wear their hearts on their sleeve. I want a lot of young girls to see them as well because they are great role models.”
Rick, Nickelchok, Director of Athletics at UFV shares McNeill’s passion and sentiments about the squad. "We are thrilled to be hosting Canada’s premier female basketball athletes at the University of the FraserValley. They are great athletes and role models and we are looking forward to some outstanding international basketball action at UFV Envision Athletic Centre."
This unique exhibition series is truly a team effort with various partners working together including UFV, the Richmond Olympic Oval, Canada Basketball and Basketball British Columbia. For BasketballBC president John Buis, these games represent an opportunity to see partnership in action as well as showcase the provincial talent that his organization has been grooming over the years.
“It’s great to have the national teams in British Columbia, and to have a chance to showcase not only the national teams, but some of our former provincial elite players. We are excited and we know that the basketball community in BC will be very supportive. UFV is a tremendous partner for both Canada Basketball and BBC. It is also particularly encouraging that one of the facilities for the 2010 Olympics is now being used to host summer sports, a legacy that we can be very proud of. We wish Canada the very best as they prepare for the World Championship.”
For more information on the SWNT domestic exhibition series please visit www.basketball.ca.