Liz Cambage praises Australian Opals’ RISE UP campaign, stays quiet on playing future

“It’s up to us to enforce things like RISE UP to the youth so we change and undo the damage that has happened in this country and make it a better place,” Cambage said.

“I’ve heard talk and talk and talk for years but this is real. The girls have been great with getting us together, making changes and bringing this into action.

“For me personally. I’m so focused on grass roots and getting connected with the youth because that is where the change needs to come. It’s a bit hard to change older minds. No offence to my grandma but it’s hard.

“Teaching the proper [Australian] history and teaching respect will make this country a better place.”

But on the playing front, Cambage declined to speak about where she will be playing ahead of the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

“This is about RISE UP today, sorry,” Cambage said when asked if she was taking questions on her future.

Cambage re-signed with WNBA club Las Vegas Aces before the COVID-19 pandemic but neither she nor the team have addressed whether she will be joining them for the delayed season in a hub in Florida late this month.

Neither BA nor the WNBL have announced whether they have signed Cambage for the Australian season which is expected to start in November or December but there is growing confidence she could be back in the league.

Opals Ezi Magbegor, Sami Whitcomb, Leilani Mitchell and Alanna Smith are all either en route to the United States or already there ahead of training camp while Opals forward Rebecca Allen has already announced she would be staying home in Australia.

Cambage’s absence would be a blow to the WNBA with 10 players already announcing they wouldn’t be playing either to focus on forcing social change in the Black Lives Matter movement or due to health concerns.

BA plans to do more with all of their other national teams led by the Australian Boomers but the Opals will lead the way for now. BA have also asked FIBA for permission to add the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island flags to their national team uniforms.

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BA has been working on a reconciliation plan which has been submitted to Reconciliation Australia for feedback while they are also working on a diversity and inclusion plan.

“We are taking our time and doing it thoroughly as it’s incredibly important to us,” Rechter said.

BA also put a statement of support on their website but didn’t share it on their social media. That policy has since changed but it left the Opals unhappy with the lack of public comments as the Black Lives Matter protests spread around the world.

Cambage posted a message in the Opals’ group chat in late June about feeling let down by the BA’s silence on social media and “two hours” later the team announced they wouldn’t be training until BA pledged to do more.

“We haven’t had this conversations enough in the past, we had a really great Opals zoom call a month ago that got extremely open, extremely raw and I think those conversations are important to have,” O’Hea said.

“It’s at the forefront now. We need to have those conversations to make sure there is change with this.”

Roy Ward is a Sports writer for The Age.

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