NOTING that many Jamaicans have been honoured posthumously, Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) champion Simone Edwards yesterday expressed pleasure at receiving a national award while she is still alive.
Edwards, the first Jamaican and Caribbean woman to make it to the WNBA Championships, was presented with the Order of Distinction in the rank of Officer for outstanding contribution to Jamaica's Women National Basketball at the National Honours and Awards Ceremony held on the lawns of King's House in St Andrew.
“This is such an awesome feeling. I've won championships; I've done a lot of things, and nothing compares to this. I've always said, from I was a child, that I want to win a national honour, and now here I am winning it. I didn't die and get it; I am alive and I am receiving it. So I'm so grateful and thankful,” Edwards told the Jamaica Observer at the ceremony.
At the same time, the 43-year-old lamented the lack of support for the sport which saw her playing in one of the most popular championships in the sporting world.
“I'm very disappointed; I'm not going to lie. When I was a part of the national team we helped to make history. We're in the top 30 as a matter of fact, and that's impressive for a team that had no sponsorship. So right now, looking back, I'm not happy,” said Edwards, who was dubbed the “Jamaican Hurricane”.
Edwards, who now resides in Atlanta, Georgia, stressed that more assistance is needed from Corporate Jamaica and Government to develop the sport.
“I want to see change; I want to be a part of that change, but I alone can't do it. I've tried and it didn't work. We need help to build basketball. We need leadership within the national basketball association. So I'm ready to play my part and just hope everybody else is willing to come along,” the former Seattle Storm player noted.
She insisted that the talent is here and said all that is needed is scouting.
“All you need is young girls that want to play and they are athletic. It's a skills game, and as long as they are willing to learn I can train them. Basketball offered me a scholarship when I didn't know what basketball was.
“I want to do more work in Jamaica, but I keep on asking and nothing. I want to help develop basketball, especially for young girls. I want to help with scholarships. I want to get for them the opportunities I got. I want to help them to develop, get them into college into the US,” the former co-captain of Jamaica's senior women's basketball team said.
— Kimone Francis