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'Really inspiring': Young female basketball players pumped for WNBA in Toronto

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Players with the TDSB’s Ursala Franklin Academy Flames are among some of Ontario’s best. For them, the reality of the WNBA coming to Toronto is exciting.

“I will definitely be getting tickets,” player Sayvia Martin told CTV News Toronto Thursday.

The Grade 12 student has been offered spots at U.S. universities. She said for Canadian players, the league hasn’t been the best career choice, but with its expansion north of the border, she’s taking a second look at a possible move.

“Growing up, I always wanted a team in Toronto so I could have more role models to look up to, and I think Toronto getting a team will keep more athletes in sport.”

The professional matches are still two years, but it’s already changing girls mindsets — about their future and their talents being on display.

“A lot of the college game has changed it. We’ve seen that through players like Caitlin Clark and Paige Bueckers,” said Sloane Hayball, another player and Grade 11 student.

“It’s really inspiring and it’s creating a lot more talk, especially in basketball. Because I think throughout history we’ve been looked down upon in the world of sports and now we are really showing that we have the strength. You just haven’t given us the opportunity to show it.”

Because the players are physically smaller than men, the games are different.

“It involves a little more trickery, a little more skill because we have to get around each other,” said Angelina Matevski, a Grade 9 student also with the Flames.

Matevski said watching women’s basketball is more interesting for the audience because viewers can see more happening.

Watching women play on television and social media is also having impact she said because young female players are seeing themselves reflected on screen.

Players believe the Toronto franchise will only make women’s basketball more popular.

“A lot of people say they aren’t tall enough, they can’t be as flashy as guys can but that’s not true and it’s very obvious when you see them play live,” said player and Grade 11 student Amiee Ko.

“I feel like so many job opportunities will open up. It’s just going to be so lovely to see women being supported finally in the long-term.” 

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