As a professional female athlete, Kia Nurse says she’s had to become a bit of a basketball nomad.
That’s why she traveled 20 hours across the globe from Australia to squeeze in a few days for an Olympic qualification tournament in Edmonton. She’s trying to help Canada get a step closer to the Tokyo Olympics.
“You know these are cards that we are dealt. The life that we live as professional athletes on the female side,” the Hamilton, Ont.-born Nurse says. “You just make more money going overseas than you do being in North America.”
Nurse has racked up the air miles as well as the basketball miles this year. She played a whole season in the WNBA with the New York Liberty from late May to early October, then flew to Australia to play professionally in Canberra over the winter.
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“Our entire Olympic team does it,” she says of her Canadian teammates. “For us to make our livelihood we have to go overseas. For me, having two seasons is long but it is what it is. It’s just the way that female sports is right now.”
That’s why the day before she left to play in Australia, it was important for Nurse to be in Mississauga, Ont. to help reveal food retailer Sobeys’ new partnership with the Canadian Olympic Committee as the official grocer for Team Canada.
The company also has a sponsorship arrangement with the national women’s hockey team.
“It’s huge,” Nurse says of the sponsorship. “For us right now, especially in female sports, it’s a lot about visibility and representation. A young girl can’t be something she can’t see.”
She says a lot of people say all the right things about how they support women’s sports but there isn’t a lot of follow up.
“They love equality – they love it – they’ll say that, but they don’t put their money where their mouth is. So this [Sobeys’ announcement] is a prime example of doing that.”
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Kia Nurse became a role model for female basketball in Canada after she helped the team capture gold at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto.