President Donald Trump has severely limited travel to Cuba by U.S. citizens, but that’s not keeping the Coastal Carolina women’s basketball team from spending a week on the Caribbean island.
The team will participate in a unique travel and play experience in Cuba from August 11-17 that will include three games against the Cuban women’s national team in Havana.
“We are so excited to announce our upcoming Cuban tour,” said CCU women’s head coach Jaida Williams in a release. “This will be an experience of a lifetime for our student-athletes and an amazing bonding experience for our team. In addition to all of the cultural benefits this trip will provide, our team will be able to gain valuable playing experience against an extremely talented Cuban women’s national team. It truly is an honor for our program to take part in this experience.”
The Chants are scheduled to play the three games in Havana early in the trip, and the remainder of the week will include cultural tours, sight-seeing and a unique learning experience throughout Cuba.
An afternoon tour of Havana will be the first activity on Aug. 11. The Chants will play their first game against Cuba on Aug. 12 at 10:30 a.m. at the Coliseo de la Ciudad Deportiva. An hour prior to the game, the two teams will co-host a clinic for local children, and the remainder of the day will include lunch at Parque Central and a Four Square walking tour.
The second game will be played at 10 a.m. on Aug. 13 and the team will then visit a local craft market followed by salsa dance lessons at the Center for Arabian Society.
The final game at 10 a.m. on Aug. 14 will be followed by a tour of the U.S. Embassy in Cuba and travel to Varadero on the northern coast of the country, which is just 90 miles south of Key West.
The remaining two days in Cuba will be spent touring Varadero before the team returns to the U.S. on Aug. 17.
A daily blog will be published on GoCCUsports.com following the team and providing first-hand accounts from the players of their experiences. Fans can also follow the team by visiting the Coastal Carolina women’s basketball Twitter and Instagram accounts (@coastalwbb).
NCAA rules allow for a foreign tour by an intercollegiate team once every four academic years. Coastal’s tour is being managed by Sports Tours International.
In early June, Trump prohibited cruise ships, organized tour groups, and private and corporate boats and aircraft from visiting the island as a form of sanctions on the country.
This will be the second time that Coastal Carolina will be represented in Cuba. The Chanticleer men’s basketball team made history with a similar trip through Sports Tours International in August 2015 prior to the 2015-16 season.
On that trip, the Chants were the first Division I college basketball team to play on the island at least since 1961, when the Cuban revolution severed diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba.
With the U.S. and Cuba restoring those relations under President Barack Obama more than 50 years later, CCU’s travel party in 2015 actually witnessed the American flag being raised again in front of the newly reopened U.S. embassy in Havana during the final day of their trip.
With U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry presiding over the ceremony, the Chants were allowed inside the embassy’s courtyard gates with American representatives for the historic moment.