Australian basketball player Liz Cambage has been dropped from the country’s women’s basketball team the Opals after choosing to attend Byron Bay’s Splendour In the Grass music festival instead of a team training camp.
Cambage, who has been ruled out of a Rio de Janeiro Olympic qualifying series, has said she will consider legal action if her ban isn’t overturned.
As Fairfax Media reports, 23-year-old Cambage decided to go to Splendour over the weekend and arrive at training camp on Monday, missing the camp’s opening day on Sunday.
Cambage has said she was at Splendour as a paid “host” for a band, and agreed to host them because of the uncertain timing of the Opals’ training camp and upcoming Rio qualifiers.
Rachel Jarry, Cambage’s longtime friend and teammate, has said that attending the selection camp was mandatory as the Opals prepared for Rio’s qualifying series.
“It doesn’t fit in with the culture we are building – you can’t choose a music festival over a camp,” Jarry said.
“She is letting her teammates down and I just wish she could have been a part of these games but it’s not to be. Liz is a good friend of mine and I’d love her to be a part of it but the team has to come first.”
Cambage has spent the last 10 months recovering from a ruptured achilles tendon, and was meant to play with the Opals as part of a three-game series against Japan beginning on Monday, 27th July.
In a statement, Basketball Australia says Cambage has been ruled out of the series against Japan, and is therefore unavailable for selection for the upcoming FIBA Oceania Championships in August.
Cambage has told the Herald Sun that she wasn’t aware that Basketball Australia was issuing a statement. “I thought we were trying to work through things,” Cambage said.
“I have been doing everything I can to keep everyone happy. I am devastated as anyone who knows me knows how much I love representing my country.
“But I am a person that does not pull out of things, whether it a professional commitment, a personal commitment or as a basketballer for my country.
“I want nothing more than to return to the court in my home town of Melbourne in August which is why I am once again asking Basketball Australia to let me attend this camp.”
Opals coach Brendan Joyce has told the Herald Sun that Cambage wouldn’t comply with the Opals’ schedule, and has disappointed the team.
“At the end of the day we tried to compromise, but you can only compromise so far otherwise we would be jeopardising her own health by not putting her through a training session. And we would be jeopardising the team by someone deciding they want to come in when they want to come in,” Joyce said.
“The team comes first and we are player-driven. The team is disappointed and everyone is, but everyone understands and supports the decision that was made by the coaching staff and Basketball Australia.”
Cambage argued her case to Joyce on Friday, but Basketball Australia has ruled that a full training session would be mandatory in order to play against Japan tonight, given Cambage’s current fitness.
The Opals play Japan at Dandenong Stadium on Monday night, Frankston Stadium on Wednesday night and Ballarat Stadium on Friday night.