It was a very dark day for women’s sport when the ABC cut their coverage of the WNBL, but now ‘s elite women’s basketball competition is back on television after a deal was struck with Fox Sports.
Basketball announced the deal to end the two-year hiatus at the WNBL and NBL season launches in Melbourne on Monday, where Canberra Capitals guard Natalie Hurst was on hand to represent the seven-time champions.
Capitals legend Lauren Jackson labelled the ABC’s decision to axe their coverage of the WNBL as a “very dark day for women’s sport” in 2014, but every Saturday 3pm game will be televised on Fox Sports and all the finals will be live.
Hurst said it was a positive for the players and the league.
“After being off the ABC for the last couple of years it’s a great thing that Fox Sports has taken on the WNBL and they’re going to showcase a game every week and all the finals games,” she said.
“It can only be a positive thing for the players and the league for sure. We’ve got a great product, we’ve got great players here we just needed to be showcased.”
Hurst said the launch helped build excitement about the upcoming WNBL season, which will mark her return to the club where she won seven titles.
They’ve completed the first week of their pre-season as they prepare to face the Bendigo Spirit in round one next month, which will also be their first game in their new home.
USA recruit Mistie Bass arrived in Canberra on Monday and the Capitals will announce their final signing on Thursday.
Hurst said she got a sneak peek of the National Convention Centre and was looking forward to the atmosphere it would help create.
“I got a little sneak peak the other week without the court down and I got goose bumps. It’s going to be an amazing place,” Hurst said.
“If we can get that crowd out there it’s going to be a real showcase out there … and it’s going to be one of the best, if not the best, stadiums in the league.”
With last year’s co-captains no longer playing for Canberra – Marianna Tolo will play in Europe, while Carly Wilson is now a Capitals assistant coach – Hurst said she didn’t normally put her hand up for the captaincy, but she’ll do it if needed.
She backed the club’s leadership depth as the Capitals continue to rebuild
“It’s not something I’d usually put my hand up for, if it happens that’s great and if it doesn’t I’m still going to be that on-floor leader anyway,” Hurst said.
“Kate Gaze has a great voice at practice, we’ve got Carly Wilson who’s an ex-captain, she’s there as an assistant coach and actually has a fairly big voice at the moment and it still feels like she’s a player.”
WNBL ROUND ONE
October 6: Canberra Capitals v Bendigo Spirit at the National Convention Centre, 7.30pm.
October 8: Canberra Capitals v Adelaide Lightning at the National Convention Centre, 3pm.