Sports

WNBA’s Toronto enlargement will assist amplify tradition of ladies’s basketball in Canada

When the information of a WNBA staff coming to Toronto final week, my cellphone blew up — as the youngsters say.

From LinkedIn to WhatsApp I could not hold monitor of the blissful emojis, the questions on the place to get season tickets and a barrage of different blissful pronouncements and requests for extra info.

Having the ability to break this story is certainly a badge of honour and delight for me, and the CBC Sports activities staff. The response was completely unbelievable. Household, associates and followers had been commenting on the tweets and on the Instagram posts with messages of jubilation.

I’ve by no means seen such an amazing outpouring of excited and constructive feedback on something I’ve ever written. Usually the feedback aren’t as blissful or making some disparaging comment about ladies’s sports activities. There have been no impolite feedback about my very own identification and what I appear like. In truth, the feedback (which my editor routinely advises me to not learn) had been blissful and exuberant.

WATCH | How sports activities followers are reacting to potential Toronto WNBA enlargement staff:

How sports activities followers are reacting to Toronto’s WNBA enlargement staff

CBC Sports activities has realized that Kilmer Sports activities Inc., headed by Toronto billionaire Larry Tanenbaum, has been granted an enlargement franchise with the WNBA. The official announcement is ready for Might 23 and the staff is predicted to start enjoying in 2026. Ali Chiasson spoke to excited Torontonians outdoors Scotiabank Area.

There are a couple of feedback about readers asking questions like “why is it all the time Toronto and never different elements of the nation?” However these are questions that may be directed to enterprise capitalists — not me. I used to be on Metro Morning the day the story broke and a caller phoned in to say that he was a cheerful dad however involved it was not a lady proprietor.

Whereas I’m the primary particular person to advocate for ladies proudly owning groups and franchises, the story was solely out for a few hours. Sure, we wish extra ladies coaches, officers and entrance workplace medical workers. Completely, however it’s not a good criticism earlier than we all know the small print.

Because the WNBA grows in Canada I hope there can be ladies homeowners in different enlargement groups in different cities. I really imagine that sports activities can create alternatives for ladies and for communities economically and athletically.

So far as these alternatives go, Kayla Alexander could not agree extra. The Canadian Olympic Crew member {and professional} participant is elated the staff is coming to Toronto.

“I’ve been enjoying professionally for the final 11 years, and I’ve needed to play overseas for the final 16,” she instructed me. “I’ve needed to go to the USA, France, Poland, Belgium, South Korea, Australia … I have been and performed all over the place, however not in Canada.”

There’s a drain of athletic expertise to high schools and universities in america. One of many advantages to the financial system and to our personal society is maintaining our expertise at house.

The responses from different Canadian gamers had been additionally constructive.

“If you construct the home, individuals will come,” mentioned WNBA veteran and staff Canada participant Natalie Achonwa. 

WATCH | Canadian WNBA vet Achonwa enthusiastic about league’s Toronto enlargement:

‘If you construct the home, individuals will come,’ says WNBA veteran

Crew Canada Olympian and WNBA veteran Natalie Achonwa is worked up concerning the enlargement of ladies’s skilled basketball into Canada. She says the time has come for buyers to leap in and help ladies’s sports activities by growing monetary help and assembly the viewers’s demand for greater merchandise.

Earlier than the WNBA pre-season sport in Edmonton between the Seattle Storm and the LA Sparks, Kia Nurse mentioned, “The vitality and the excitement is there for everyone and our leagues are persevering with to develop. It seems like we’re attending to that prime the place it may boil over in the fitting path.”

Whereas Nurse performs for the LA Sparks, she is proudly from Hamilton, Ont.,  and has all the time been a powerful advocate of rising the game at house.

Nurse’s prediction that it might boil over into an enlargement staff in Toronto proved appropriate. A number of days after the sold-out sport in Edmonton, CBC Sports activities confirmed the story.

2024 is certainly a 12 months of progress and enlargement and memorable moments in ladies’s sport in Canada. To say that it seems like there’s a motion is an understatement.

When my very own daughter was enjoying aggressive basketball and soccer, I keep in mind pondering: if she chooses to go professional, the place would she go? Once we create alternatives for younger ladies at house to proceed their relationship with sport, it solidifies a strong connection. And girls and ladies deserve this.

A women's basketball player holds a ball in one hand and points with the other.
Malia, 15, is a member of the Kia Nurse EYBL Elite Program. She is among the many many excited concerning the future prospects of ladies’s basketball in Canada following the WNBA’s deliberate enlargement to Toronto. (Submitted by Lisa Noga)

One among my associates has a daughter who performs with Kia Nurse EYBL Elite Program. Her mother, Lisa Noga, was excited as a result of it not solely amplifies the tradition of ladies’s basketball it means we’re on course.

“Having a staff right here in Toronto means we’re fairly actually shifting the purpose submit past the border of the USA, making room for extra progress, extra alternative, and extra publicity of our homegrown ladies’s Canadian expertise,” Noga mentioned to me over textual content.

Her daughter, Malia, is 15 and agreed together with her mother. She mentioned she feels excited concerning the promise {of professional} ball in Canada and the dream of enjoying at house in entrance of her family and friends.

It might sound easy however enjoying at house isn’t one thing that’s all the time potential for ladies athletes — a minimum of not in Canada.

And this is identical factor that athletes from each ladies’s sport have underlined. Taking part in at house is necessary. It issues.

“I’m so blissful for this subsequent era of younger ladies and athletes developing in Canada,” Alexander added. “In the event that they determine they need to pursue basketball as a occupation, they’ve the chance to play in entrance of their household, associates and family members.”

WATCH | Aaliyah Edwards goals to encourage subsequent era:

Aaliyah Edwards on getting drafted and provoking the following era

The Canadian ahead was lately drafted sixth total by the Washington Mystics.

I have been privileged to have the ability to cowl many developments and progress. I am excited concerning the alternatives that this new staff affords and the probabilities for ladies in sports activities media, sports activities enterprise to get alternatives as nicely.

There are nonetheless a number of questions concerning the staff and a number of issues we do not really know. Who can be teaching? Who can be within the entrance workplace? Are they accepting functions for Built-in Assist Workers for medical and vitamin?

All of the queries must be answered sooner or later. And extra developments corresponding to constitution flights are kicking off this new WNBA season. And naturally, an incoming homegrown star in Aaliyah Edwards.

Within the meantime, I am going to wait patiently for the day I get to cowl the primary official WNBA occasion in Toronto.

Then I’ll take into consideration the entire different skilled ladies’s leagues that may comply with and the younger individuals who will dream large and have an opportunity to shine — north of the border.

WATCH | What a Toronto WNBA staff means for the town, gamers and followers:

Toronto is getting a WNBA staff. What it means for the town, gamers and followers

Ladies’s skilled basketball is coming to Toronto in Might 2026. CBC Sports activities has realized that Kilmer Sports activities Inc., headed by Toronto billionaire Larry Tanenbaum, has been granted an enlargement franchise with the Ladies’s Nationwide Basketball Affiliation.

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