Tired of begging
Gold medal-winning female basketballers demand respect
Despite winning the Caribbean Basketball Confederation (CBC) championship in the British Virgin Islands on Saturday, coach of Jamaica's national senior women's basketball team Simone Edwards says the team is still in need of financial aid.
"I am just asking you guys to believe in us. We have proven that we are fighters, we work hard. These young ladies gave up their jobs, they are giving up their bodies and I am just asking someone to step in and help us financially to get to the next level.
"They always tell us to prove and no matter how much we prove... we went undefeated and came back with a trophy. I am hoping we get some change, so it's either we keep going and begging or somebody just come on and save me all of that," she told reporters upon the team's arrival at the Norman Manley International Airport on Sunday night.
The Jamaicans, who only had one week to prepare for the tournament, easily won Group B after defeating Trinidad & Tobago, St Vincent & the Grenadines and Guyana. But they had to dig deep to come from behind to conquer the host in the semi-final and then again in the final to get the better of the Dominican Republic.
"I am happy to be here with my gold medal. We work very hard and we deserve to be happy bringing back a gold medal to Jamaica after all the struggles and obstacles in our way, so right now we are going to enjoy our hard work, and ready to go training in the next two days for the next tournament," Edwards said.
The Centrobasket, scheduled for July 22-26 in Mexico, will be the team's next assignment, where they will vie for a berth to the FIBA Americas Championships, from which they can qualify for the FIBA World Championships or the Olympics.
The former player is confident that University of Connecticut's guard, Lorin Dixon; centre Tajay Ashmeade, who plays in Europe; and Shereesha Richards will be a major boost to the team for the upcoming tournament.
"These are three players that I know will make a difference for our team in this tournament coming up. Despite the difficulties that we have always faced we have always been to the FIBA Americas and I have these players now so it's all about getting them together, getting them focused on the task ahead.
"I can't change the fact that I do not have a lot a time to prepare... I have gone up against other teams that have been playing for months and I still beat a few of them, but it's hard to beat the Cuba, Canada, Brazil and all of those with only one week of training, but with the talent and the discipline, I know I can fight and qualify once I keep building my team," she said.
Edwards, upbeat and positive as usual, has taken aim at winning the tournament, but the main focus will be on qualifying for the FIBA Americas.
"We are just trying to get through each step and get stronger along the way. It's good competition for us and I am looking forward to it and we are ready to go," she said with an air of confidence.