Ambassador / FWBWC22 / I AM A GIRL
Written by Jaylee Ismay
8 December, 2021

Basketball NSW is excited to announce today that Australian Opal, WNBL superstar and NSW Junior, Shyla Heal is the latest Ambassador for the I AM A GIRL (IAAG) Leadership Scholarship Program.

The I AM A GIRL Leadership Scholarship Program is an initiative under the NSW Legacy Program for the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2022, proudly funded by the NSW Government.

As a NSW Metro & Sutherland Sharks representative, Heal has carved her name out over the years in a number of history books such as being one of the younger debutants in the WNBL history as a development player at age 14 with the South East Queensland Stars as well as being selected in the first round of the WNBA Draft earlier this year.

Throughout her basketball career, Heal has always risen to the occasion and has worn the green and gold a number of times as a teenager.

While representing the Australian Sapphires at the 2017 FIBA U17 Oceania Championship in Guam, she was named MVP in the Championship game and in 2018 was a representative at the U17 World Championships where she made the Tournament All Star Five and helped lead the team to a bronze medal. In 2019 she led Australia to a silver medal at the U19 World Cup after returning to the final for the first time since 1997.

In her breakout season for the Townsville Fire in the 2020 WNBL season, she finished Top 5 for scoring, was awarded Youth Player of the Year, and was named in the All-WNBL Second Team.

Now at age 20, Heal is tipped to be once again the player to watch in the upcoming 2021/22 WNBL Season, signing with the Sydney Uni Flames and under the direction of her dad, Shane Heal as Head Coach. 

Heal expressed her enthusiasm in joining the IAAG Leadership Scholarship Program, by adding that she hopes to bring a new perspective and first hand experience as an elite athlete to help support and encourage the goals of similar like minded basketball players.

“I am proud to be an ambassador for the I Am A Girl program that aims to encourage more female participation in our great sport,” said Heal.

“Basketball has taught me so much about myself and given me some incredible opportunities, so I look forward to playing my part in building a legacy that will last long after the FIBA Women’s World Basketball Cup has concluded.”

Heal is our fifth IAAG Leadership Scholarship Program Ambassador and will be joining previously announced coaches Liz Mills & Carrie Graf along with international FIBA referee, Amy Bonner and Opal team mate Lauren Nicholson. 

“Shyla has that star power everywhere she goes, and to have her now as part of our female only program, I think her passion for empowerment and worldly knowledge will be an asset for our scholarship holders,” said BNSW, CEO, Maria Nordstrom.

“She is the perfect example of proving that hard work pays off and as someone who not so long ago was in the same position as most of our scholarship holders, I think she will be an asset to help motivate and encourage to clearly show that anything is possible.”

The IAAG Ambassadors will work with our Scholarship holders in a number of key areas in order to maximise the learning and developmental experience by sharing their own basketball knowledge and provide support for girls wanting to step into similar roles within the game.

The IAAG Leadership Scholarship Program has been offered free to 240 selected female players, coaches, referees, statisticians, scoretable officials, team managers, and administrators and includes a 12-month holistic program designed to encourage and inspire women and girls right across NSW.

The IAAG Leadership Scholarship Program is an initiative under the NSW Legacy Program for the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2022, proudly funded by the NSW Government and aligned to its Her Sport Her Way Strategy.

Pillars of the NSW Legacy Program include:

→ Female Leadership Scholarship Program.
→ Education and participation programs delivered in partnership with Indigenous Basketball Australia and Savannah Pride.
→ Delivery of a basketball-specific ‘Daughters and Dads’ program.
→ Delivery of culturally specific ‘Daughters and Dads’ program delivered in partnership with Savannah Pride.
→ School holidays programs delivered state-wide.
→ 3×3 Basketball Tournaments delivered state-wide.

A number of activations will be rolled out each year leading up to the FIBA Women’s World Basketball Cup 2022.

Click HERE to be redirected to the I AM A GIRL webpage.