HOLLYWOOD star Emily Ratajkowski’s old love of Bantry, combined with her new love of basketball, meant she didn’t have to think twice when asked to sponsor a local team.
Emily, who shot to fame after appearing in the Blurred Lines music video and also starred in the hit film Gone Girl, is the new sponsor of Bantry Basketball Club’s U15/16s team.
Her clothing label Inamorata is the jersey sponsor for the boys’ team who are looking forward to seeing the star courtside some time soon.
Their coach Pat Curran is friends with her dad John, who bought a house in the area over 20 years ago and spends a few months there every year.
‘We were lining up lists of sponsors and I just asked him straight out if Emily might be interested in coming on board,’ said Pat.
John, an artist, actually played basketball with Bantry himself years ago.
Speaking from his home in San Diego, California, he told The Southern Star: ‘I’m really into basketball and so is her husband Sebastian, he has a game on all the time, so Emily had no choice but to get into it too! When I rang her and asked if she wanted to kick some money into Bantry basketball, straight away she said yeah sure!’
John fell in love with Bantry when he visited over 30 years ago to paint and stayed in a house belonging to a friend of a friend.
‘I came for three months and ended up staying two years. I needed something to do when I wasn’t painting so I started playing basketball and I ended up buying the house. Emily has been going there since she was one,’ he said.
He’ll be back in Bantry with his wife Kathy in September. ‘Emily loves coming over too, she’ll just show up some time, and what she loves about the place is that nobody turns her in, so she can just hide out and relax.’
She’s the couple’s only child and John is loving being granddad to her son Sylvester Apollo Bear.
John is also on board with the sponsorship, along with his friend Robert Romero, who also splits his time between San Diego and Bantry.
Pat said that Emily works to promote a very inclusive and accepting society by highlighting issues such as women’s rights, women’s reproductive rights, immigration, LGBT+ and more.
‘Having her name associated with our club sends out very good vibes – the players look up to people like her and hopefully we’ll get her to a game soon,’ he said.
Bantry Basketball Club is only one of two in West Cork (the other is in Skibbereen). They’ve had to cap membership due to lack of space and, along with other sports clubs in the town, are hoping to get a new community facility built in the town.
Pat thanked their other sponsors including Bantry Credit Union, MCM Construction, Copmac Scaffolding, Mannings Emporium, Boston Bar, Anchor Bar, Bantry Bay Hotel, Brick Oven, Bantry Glass and Glazing, Mick Cremin Coaches, and Bantry Bath & Tile.