Update on USA Women’s bronze win at World Deaf Basketball
[Transcript] This is a follow up report since our last news on the USA women’s basketball team winning bronze at World Deaf Basketball (WDB) in Poland. We have a response from the USA women head coach, Deb Ayres.
Ayres said that the women’s team fought hard and did well, we should be proud.
Ayres explained that a few players backed out of the team a few months before going to Poland. The USA women team met for the first time at JFK airport. The team only had 5 hours to practice as opposed to the other countries had weeks, months, or even a year to practice together. She said that these circumstances could have stopped us, but it did not. The team kept fighting through until the end.
She mentioned that in the past, the USA team used to be able to not have any training camps or practice, the team could show up and win. Now, other countries are getting better and becoming more challenging. Ayres said this is encouraging because it makes USA step up the bar to win next time.
One of the biggest challenges for USA teams in general is finances. Other countries are financially sponsored by their sponsors or government. Ayres said an example is that she was told that Russia and Lithuania government will pay each deaf player about $71,000 if they win gold. So, for the players, this is their salary.
Another example is that hearing USA teams have their training camp and travel expenses paid for so they do not need to worry about raising support themselves. As for our USA teams, they have to raise support themselves for each trip to the World Deaf Basketball, PanAm Games, and Deaflympics. It is not easy to ask for money from family, friends, and the community every time.
Ayres mentioned that it would be nice to have secured sponsorship for the entire team so USA can attract the finest players without worrying about fundraising.
At WDB, for the semifinals, USA women played against Lithuania, there was an overtime, and the team lost to Lithuania by one point. Ayres explained that it was definitely a disappointing feeling and it was hard for the team to get back up on their feet and play for bronze against Turkey. The team did it anyways and we won. She sees the bronze as their gold. Ayres quoted, “The world bar has been raised. USA will rise again to the next challenge.”
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