Jackson visits National Centre of Indigenous Excellence
Australian Flag-bearer and Jayco Opals star Lauren Jackson and Basketball Australia Chief Executive Officer Kristina Keneally today visited the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence (NCIE) in Redfern to address the next generation of Australian basketball players.
The state-of-the-art NCIE is the first facility of its kind, aiming to develop Indigenous sporting and artistic talent and provide families in the Redfern Waterloo area with a range of learning, recreational and employment opportunities.
Ms Jackson – who at the 2012 London Olympic Games won a Bronze medal and broke the record for most career points scored by a female basketball player in Olympic competition – met with students from the National Aboriginal Sporting Chance Academy and students attending the NCIE’s Under 15s girls basketball camp.
Ms Jackson and Ms Keneally were this morning hosted by NCIE Chief Executive Officer Jason Glanville. Ms Jackson said these Olympics Games – her fourth – were one of her favourite sporting experiences.
“Every Olympic tournament is unique. This time around, carrying the Australian flag during the Opening Ceremony was certainly the most amazing night of my life,” Ms Jackson said.
“But what makes it all worth it is being able to come to community spaces like the NCIE and share my experiences with the next generation of basketballers – kids who are just as inspired by the sport as I am.
“These kids are our next generation of Opals and Boomers. They deserve every ounce of support we can give them – everything from raising awareness about Indigenous disadvantage, to something as simple as a space to play.”
Ms Keneally said her vision for Australian basketball included making community basketball the backbone of the sport at a national and Olympic level.
“Basketball opened up the doors to the world for Lauren Jackson – who then went on to become the best female basketball player in the world,” Ms Keneally said.
“Basketball boasts incredible strength in terms of mass participation numbers, with more than one million people regularly playing basketball across the country.
“As a sport, that strength is something we need to tap into to grow. The first step in doing that is supporting facilities like the NCIE, as well as the students and families who rely on them.
“It’s community centres like the NCIE which give our next generation of basketball players the opportunity to play the sport they love – and players like Lauren Jackson who inspire them to follow their dreams.”