Sporting legend Lauren Jackson said Australian sport needs more Tasmanian teams, starting with one in the National Basketball League.
The recently-retired four-time Olympian was in Launceston on Friday to talk at Hadspen Cricket Club’s Champions of Sport function and was happy to lend her 196-centimetre profile to the latest push for a team in either the national men’s or women’s comp.
“I think it would be amazing,” Jackson said.
“Tasmania is a beautiful place and has a rich sporting culture. There are a lot of great athletes that come from Tasmania.
“Australians should be travelling here to watch sport and play sport so I’m all for it.
“It’s an hour flight from Melbourne, it would be fine, well, unless it was like my flight this morning.
“Having a team here would be amazing. It’s easier to get to than Perth or Townsville and when I was playing I would have loved to come down here.
“I played for the national team in Tasmania a long time ago and there was a great turnout.”
The Albury 35-year-old, who was MVP four times in the WNBL, three times in the WNBA and won championships in four continents, is no stranger to Tasmania.
“My great grandmother lived here and my grandmother, Irene Benny, was born here so I have a lot of fourth and fifth cousins around Somerset and Burnie.
“So I have a real soft spot for this area and it was part of my growing up.”
Jackson said her life has been full of speaking engagements since she announced her retirement in March but this would be her last one before her first child is due in February.
“As a professional athlete you are so focused on yourself your whole life and I’m looking forward to focusing on someone else.”
After three silver medals and one bronze from her four Olympic campaigns as a player, Jackson said she enjoyed her first Games as a spectator and commentator in Rio de Janeiro.
“The men were unbelievable even though they did not medal,” she said. “It was a very good tournament for them and so many people have hope in the men’s program.
“But the women did not really have any good games so did not have any momentum. Maybe it was a bit of complacency because there is no doubt the talent is there so we should be medalling at every Olympics.”
Jackson was joined at the function by former VFL premiership winner Sam Kekovich and multiple world champion axeman David Foster.