Betty Watson is without a doubt the founding mother of women’s basketball in Australia, and for more than 50 years has been a tireless champion for the game. Working alongside her late husband Ken, Watson fought to demand respect from the male-dominated administrations of her era, and she led the campaign to mark the difference between basketball and netball (then known as ‘women’s basketball’). Betty and Ken Watson were instrumental in establishing the first Australian Junior Championships in 1954, where some of the biggest names in Australian Basketball had their origin.
Watson’s list of accomplishments within the game are remarkable; she was the head of the delegation to take the first basketball team from a Western country to China in 1963, and she was the founding President of the Women’s Basketball Council in Victoria. Betty served as President of the Women’s Council of the Australian Basketball Union, and also served as the Australian Team Manager in 1963, 1974 and 1975. In 1976 she lobbied to have the Australian women’s team compete in the Pre-Olympics Qualification Tournament for the Montreal Games. Despite being initially unsuccessful, Watson persevered and her efforts saw the Australian women travel to Bulgaria in 1980 in an effort to qualify for their first ever appearance at an Olympics Games.
In 1997, Watson received a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the development of women’s basketball in Australia, reflecting her efforts as an administrator with the Australian Women’s Basketball Council, and the Victorian Women’s Basketball Association. Watson’s name today adorns the WNBL Rookie of the Year trophy, and Basketball Victoria’s medal for Female Player of the Year. She has formerly been awarded life membership to Basketball Victoria, and to the Women’s National Basketball League. Having already been inducted as a Life Member to Basketball Australia in the Class of 2006 as a Contributor, the basketball community is proud to honour Betty Watson’s tireless work for the game as she is elevated to the status of Legend within the Australian Basketball Hall of Fame.