Betty Watson (1)

Betty Watson

Year of induction

Betty Watson. It is perhaps cliché to repeat the expression, “behind every great man is a great woman, but this is surely the case with Betty Watson.

Betty may have become a so called “basketball widow” considering Ken Watson’s commitment to the sport. But instead Betty decided to accept the challenge which was presented when Ken, as secretary of the Amateur Basketball Union of Australia (Basketball Australia) was told by FIBA general secretary, William Jones, that women’s basketball should be established in Australia.

In 1942 Betty played in a series of basketball games against the American nurses stationed at the 4 th General Hospital (Royal Melbourne Hospital).

At that time during the early fifties women’s netball was called “seven a side basketball”, and the general public was barely aware that women played “basketball” confusing the sport with what was later to be known as “netball”.

A strategy to get women playing basketball was established with an advertisement placed in the “Sporting Globe” a twice weekly publication mainly devoted to Australian Rules football. The advertisement sought interest from females playing other sports appealing to them to come and try basketball. There were strong rivalries within teams playing softball and those rivalries continued when there were many players who attended the basketball clinics and quickly became part of a rapidly growing sport.

Betty Watson became the first president of the Victorian Women’s Basketball Council and the Australian Women’s Basketball Council. She became the team leader of the first Australian national team to attend the 1957 World Championship held in Brazil, finishing a very creditable 10th after beating Cuba and Peru.

Betty’s contribution to women’s basketball and in particular junior women was acknowledged by the WNBL Rookie of the Year Award being named after her.

In stadiums around the country, one of the constant things you will notice is “Basketball Mothers”, who drive players to games, arrange uniforms and encourage players among a list of other things. Tonight we honour the original Basketball Mother, Betty Watson, as a legend of the Melbourne Tigers.