Las Vegas Aces star Liz Cambage has been well aware of the wildfires that have ravaged Australia in recent months.
She didn’t fully understand how bad it was, however, until she arrived back home this week to train with the Australian national team ahead of their Olympic qualifier.
“It’s devastating at home. I didn’t realize until I landed in Melbourne,” Cambage said, via the Associated Press. “Everyone is wearing a mask at home, it’s the worst air quality. It’s scary. Right now we’re seeing the first stages of extreme climate change. Fires to golf ball [sized hail] raining down from the sky that no one can escape.”
Cambage, while born in London, was raised in Melbourne and made her debut with the Australian national team in 2008. The 28-year-old will join Australia in their qualifying tournament in France next month, where they’ll attempt to earn a spot in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Though she said her friends and family are safe, she understands how scary the situation still is. So far this fire season, more than 30 people have been killed and more than 2,500 homes have been destroyed by the bush fires, according to the New York Times. One professor estimated that nearly 500 million animals may have already been killed in New South Wales alone.
“For the people that are close, it’s terrifying,” Cambage said, via the Associated Press. “People don’t realize how fast fire can move. People have been staying behind to defend their homes and land. It’s terrifying, having family and friends that live out there as well.”
Cambage — who is gearing up for her fifth season in the WNBA after averaging 15.9 points and 8.2 rebounds with the Aces last year — has been active in raising money for her home country in the wake of the fires, too. She launched a GoFundMe page earlier this month, and has worked with many in both the WNBA and NBA to raise money and awareness.
She has a platform, she said, and wants “to do what I can for my country right now.”
“The NBA and WNBA, I’m so very grateful for their support,” Cambage said, via the Associated Press. “I went to [UFC 246 in Las Vegas] and they were selling T-shirts with all proceeds going to Australia. I’m thankful for organizations around the world to support my country.”
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