Joy Drop: Toronto hosting WNBA game is great news for women's basketball

CBC Sports Senior Contributor Shireen Ahmed's weekly roundup of the things that struck her from the week that was.

CBC Sports' senior contributor Shireen Ahmed on the week's happier moments

A woman dribbles a basketball up the court.
Canada's Bridget Carleton (6) and her Minnesota Lynx will play an exhibition game in Toronto in May. (Getty Images)

What a week of winning. We aren't far past the men's World Junior win and Canada's domination on the ice continued with a huge win from the U18 women's team at their world championship.

Their 10-0 victory over Sweden (yes, 10) was incredible. Waterloo's Caitlin Kraemer got a hat trick in the first period — the fastest in tournament history. How's that for some added adrenaline into the veins? 

I am also particularly excited because this is my birthday week. Some notable January babies include Greta Thunburg, Kayla Grey, Tracy Moore, Muhammad Ali, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, and Dr. Angela Davis. Two of my CBC Sports colleagues, Aaron and Sunil (birthday twin!), also have January birthdays. Here's a selfie of us in the office. I am in excellent company in this amazing month. 

Three people smile for the camera.
Sunil, left, Aaron and Shireen in the CBC Sports office. (Shireen Ahmed/CBC)

In other thrilling news, the WNBA is coming to Canada. The Minnesota Lynx and the Chicago Sky will face off in a pre-season exhibition game at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on May 13. It will be televised live and I can't wait to hear the broadcast team roster. Canada is not only home to incredible women's basketball but to amazing women in basketball media as well. And in 2021, the Raptors were the first NBA team to have an all-female team for an NBA broadcast.

The excitement is palpable and I would expect the turnout to be high. The calibre of women's basketball is stellar in the GTA and I expect many young ballers and fans would love to see the top women's players in the world compete here. My family and I plan to attend this momentum occasion. There have been calls to have a WNBA team in Canada and that pull will only get stronger with this game. 

To see women's sports thrive in this manner is a definite catalyst for joy. That being said, my daughter has been overseas at the first women's football tournament to be held in Saudi Arabia. It was hosted by the Saudi Arabia Football Federation. Watching her be selected for and then train with Pakistan's women's team at this historic event has made my heart burst. She is part of a new movement in women's soccer and I couldn't be more proud. Her team finished second and in such an important year for women's soccer, I couldn't ask for more. 

Earlier this week, Scotiabank released a book called The Hockey Jersey. I was pleased to hear about it, particularly because it is a book that features a girls' team with a racialized protagonist named Kareema. This is so important considering I can't recall a single children's hockey book that has a BIPOC main character. In fact, according to research from Scotiabank, only 1.33 per cent of the 150 top-selling children's books about hockey include a female BIPOC main character on the cover. 

The story unfolds as Kareema and her team find the strength to be hockey players — the game they love. Jael Richardson writes the book with Eva Perron, and Chelsea Charles created the gorgeous illustrations. One of the most amazing things about this book is that all proceeds will go to Hockey 4 Youth, a Toronto-based organization that envelopes newcomers and sidelined youth into hockey and educational programs. This collaboration amplifies a story of young, racialized athletes and couples it with an organization that focuses on social inclusion and Canada's most storied sport. Of course, I loved all of it. 

I leave you with one of my favourite birthday songs by Kygo featuring John Legend called "Happy Birthday."


Shireen Ahmed

Senior Contributor

Shireen Ahmed is a multi-platform sports journalist, a TEDx speaker, mentor, and an award-winning sports activist who focuses on the intersections of racism and misogyny in sports. She is an industry expert on Muslim women in sports, and her academic research and contributions have been widely published. She is co-creator and co-host of the “Burn It All Down” feminist sports podcast team. In addition to being a seasoned investigative reporter, her commentary is featured by media outlets in Canada, the USA, Europe and Australia. She holds an MA in Media Production from Toronto Metropolitan University where she now teaches Sports Journalism and Sports Media. You can find Shireen tweeting or drinking coffee, or tweeting about drinking coffee. She lives with her four children and her cat.

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