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Betty Watson OAM

In under 50 years, Betty Watson helped change Australian women's basketball from almost non-existent to the Australian team winning Olympic medals.

Honour Roll

"Women's sport isn't worth watching because women aren't as good as men at playing sport." That was all the motivation Betty Watson needed. It was this community attitude during the late '60s that Betty was determined to end. So she took up the challenge to promote basketball to women.

Betty has seen the sport grow from a strictly amateur competition with an emphasis on fundraising for survival during the '70s, to a semi-professional Women's National Basketball League (WNBL) with sponsors and international recognition.

During the early days, Betty advertised in local papers for women to learn to play basketball and knocked on sports editors' doors for media coverage. "I used to drive them crazy. I'd do my homework and come up with great story ideas about women's basketball and find interesting women for them to write about," she said. Betty helped lead change through coaching, establishing administrative and training programs around the State for referees and officials and lobbying for women's basketball to be accepted into the Olympic Games.

Betty was President of the Victorian Women's Basketball Association and President of the Australian Women's Basketball Council for 20 years, and although now retired, she is often sought out for her advice. As well as her list of achievements, Betty, 80, of Airey's Inlet, is admired for her skills, vision and inspirational leadership.

Her contribution to women's basketball is recognised in the Betty Watson Rookie of the Year award given the WNBL's best new player. "We've produced some amazing female talent and the standard of women's basketball now is incredibly high. "I think it's much more interesting to watch than the men's games," she said.