Australian Hall of Fame Legend, Betty Watson OAM sadly passed away at the age of 97 on Wednesday. She will be remembered as the founding mother of women’s basketball in Australia.
Betty was a tireless champion of the game working for more than 50 years to ensure that all women would have a pathway to play. In an era where women didn’t have the opportunities that are now afforded to them, Betty was a trailblazer, never taking no for an answer and never letting the setbacks deter her.
Betty has left many legacies in the sport including the establishment of the successful Australian Junior Championships in 1954, a competition that has continued to grow and produce some of the country’s best talent.
In 1997, Betty received a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the development of women’s basketball in Australia. She is a life member of Basketball Victoria and the WNBL, where the Rookie of the Year Award is named in her honour.
Executive General Manager of High Performance and former Opals’ coach, Jan Stirling credits Betty for her career in basketball.
“Aunty Betty was articulate, thoughtful, and knowledgeable she encouraged all the athletes under her care to be respectful and to immerse themselves in the cultures of the countries that they visited.
“She was my very first team manager when I was 17 and I credit her with giving me the opportunities that I had throughout my basketball career. I was able to coach at the highest level thanks to the pathway that Betty forged for me.
“She was a true pioneer of the game, and she deserves all the accolades that she has received. The basketball family has lost one of the very best ambassadors of the game.”
Betty was elevated to Legend status within the Australian Basketball Hall of Fame for her contribution to the game, one of only six to ever achieve this honour.
We send our condolences to Betty’s family and many friends within the basketball community.