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15 February 2001

OLYMPIC OPALS TO VISIT RIDGE

by a staff reporter

Players from Australia's national women's basketball team, the Opals, will be special guests at the Federation 2001 Opal Jewellery Design Awards and Exhibition at Lightning Ridge in July this year.

The players will model opal jewellery at the Gala Awards Night on Saturday July 28; and have also agreed to conduct a training clinic for Lightning Ridge's junior basketball players.

Jenni Brammall, coordinator of the Opal Jewellery Design Awards Association (OJDAA),says the presence of Australia's Olympic silver medal winning team will be a great thrill.

"It's fantastic putting the Opals in opal will be one of the best ways imaginable to Place our gemstone under the spotlight," said Jenni."And 2001 is the perfect year for this," she added. "We'll be celebrating opal and at the same time recognising these great Australian sportswomen, who are named for our national gemstone. All this in a year during which Australia is reflecting on its achievements since Federation, 100 years ago. It really should help attract interest in Lightning Ridge and in opal."

Women's basket ball was first played as an Olympic sport in 1976 at Montreal, Canada. The Australian women's team has qualified for four Olympic Games: Los Angeles 1984 (fifthplace), Soul 1988(fourth place), Atlanta 1996 (third place) and Sydney 2000, at which the Opals won the silver medal after a 76-54 defeat,by the United States.

Visitors to Lightning Ridge in July will include players from the Opals Sydney 2000 silver medal winning team, as well as other members of the national squad. Head coach Jan Stirling will lead the visiting party, and will speak at the 0JDAA Gala Awards Night. Jan played for Australia from 1974-78, and has been an assistant coach with the national team since 1995.She is the first female named to lead the Opals.

The number of players to visit Lighting Ridge is yet to be determined. "That's my greatest concern," said Jenni Brammall this week. 'The OJDAA is a non-profit organisation that exists to promote opal,and at the same time to promote Lightning Ridge and the Walgett Shire area. We just don't have the funds to pay for the players' plane fares and accommodation. But we can't afford to miss this fantastic opportunity, now that the Opals have accepted our invitation.

"So we're inviting miners, families, businesses and clubs to Sponsor an Opal basketballer, and to sit with one of the Opals during the Gala Awards Night. "The Opals enjoy great support in Lightning Ridge; in fact their team manager Marian Stewart remembers receiving hero faxes from Lightning Ridge during the Sydney 2000 Olympics," Jenni said. 'I hope this enthusiasm will translate into some community support, so we can bring as many players to Lightning Ridge as possible."

Get the family, business or club together to Sponsor an Opal. Your $800 sponsorship will buy
Return flight for an Opal to Lightning Ridge from Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra or Brisbane
Accommodation and meals for an Opal during the team's visit

In return, you will enjoy:
The company of an Opals team member during the Gala Awards dinner of the Lightning Ridge Federation 2001
Opal Jewellery Design Awards and Exhibition,July 28 2001
*A photograph of yourself with your special dinner guest
*Public recognition by the OJDAA of your contribution towards opal promotion

But ACT QUICKLY -we need your commitment by Monday February 26 so arrangements can be finalised with Opals team management.Contact Jenni Brammall or Sue White at the OJDAA office in the LRMA building, phone 68294488.

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