Photo courtesy of Michelle Couling.
Basketball superstar Lauren Jackson has embarked on her off-court career with a group of new owners saving Australia’s most iconic women’s domestic basketball team – the Melbourne Boomers.
Jackson will join the board of the Melbourne Boomers, and take up an executive role as Commercial Operations Manager, as the loss-making club embarks on a transition to ownership by a group of financial supporters.
“Basketball has given me so much, over so many years, that I’m keen to contribute to the future of the sport in Australia. For Olympic success, we need a strong WNBL presence and strong teams like the Melbourne Boomers,” she said.
“I admire the new owners who are putting their money and time into supporting women’s sport, and I’d like to call on all Melbourne basketball fans to get behind the Melbourne Boomers.”
Basketball Australia Chair Rob Marcolina said: “Basketball Australia is thrilled to see the Melbourne Boomers continue as a cornerstone club in the WNBL. We see the transfer of licence to Melbourne Basketball Pty Ltd as a significant step forward for this historic club, noting there are a few formalities yet to be finalised.
“It is important that we say particular thanks to the Bulleen Templestowe Basketball Club for their 32 years of supporting the Boomers in the WNBL; an important contribution to elite level women’s basketball.”
Formerly known as the Bulleen Boomers, the Melbourne Boomers has been home to more Australian Opals, World Champions and Olympians than any other club in Australia including Michele Timms and Liz Cambage.
The rescue was initiated by the Chairman of Etihad Stadium, Tony Hallam, whose CV includes executive roles with PwC and the Football Federation of Australia. He and highly regarded team General Manager, Justin Nelson have recruited a number of supporters with valuable sporting and business acumen to form Melbourne Basketball Pty Ltd, which will own the Melbourne Boomers.
“Our goal is to turn the Melbourne Boomers around within three years and, after that, we plan to invest any profits back into the team. Simply put, we’re doing this because the Boomers are worth saving,” Hallam said.
“For thousands of girls who aspire to play at the elite level in Melbourne, the importance of the survival of the Melbourne Boomers is self-evident – they need access to a national competition.
“However, it’s not just about the elite. It’s about providing an opportunity to see and interact with wonderful, strong, healthy role models. It’s about the opportunity to feel the connectedness that comes with supporting a home team. It’s about giving families the opportunity to have a night out that everyone can share and enjoy.”
“With the news the Boomers are here to stay and with Lauren joining us in a key role, we want to see the Melbourne community jump on board as members and support us – both basketball and women’s sport.”
Victorian Minister for Sport John Eren said the Melbourne Boomers are a key feature of the sporting city’s folklore.
“The Melbourne Boomers are one of our state’s best-known sporting institutions. The club has a proud history, and now has a bright future too.”
“When Australians think of women’s basketball, they think of Lauren Jackson. She is an ornament to the game, and I wish her well and she embarks on the next chapter of her career. The Boomers are in safe hands.”
Basketball Victoria president, Mike Bainbridge, also welcomed the initiative.
“This is a great outcome for women’s sport. With the Opals preparing for the upcoming Rio Olympics, it’s imperative that our domestic league here on Australian soil is in strong standing,” he said.
“The Boomers brand has a rich history in the WNBL and we are glad that Victoria will continue to be represented by three teams in one of the strongest and most talented basketball leagues in the world.”