League award among many honours
THE awarding of the Betty Thompson Medal for A-grade best and fairest in the Bendigo Bank Bendigo Football Netball League is indicative of her profound influence on netball.
Thompson was inducted to Bendigo’s Sports Star of the Year Hall of Fame in 2001-02.
It was not just in Bendigo where she left her mark on one of the country’s most popular sports.
Thompson’s links to netball began with Ararat District in 1954 and went on to include Mininera Association, Echuca and District, Golden City, and the North Central Region.
A primary school teacher, Thompson moved to Bendigo in the mid-1970s and by 1976 was a key figure with the Golden City Netball Association.
She was a founding member of Central Victorian Umpires and in the mid-80s was elected chairman of North Central Netball Region which included Echuca, Kyneton, Maryborough, Heathcote, Strathdale, and Golden City.
Betty was later elected as a state councillor and played a crucial role as Country Cup co-ordinator which involved 15 regions at open and under-19 level.
It was umpire development on which Thompson had a major influence. She coached umpires for the Bendigo associations, Monday women’s and midweek women’s, and would often be running along the sidelines to umpire matches when needed.
Thompson’s outstanding and long-time dedication earned her a Victorian Netball distinction award.
The Betty Thompson Medal was first struck by the Bendigo Football Netball League in 1997.
Those to have earned the top honour include Sandhurst’s Kris Greene and Heather Oliver, Maryborough’s Alicia Cassidy, Kangaroo Flat’s Lauren Cowling, now Bowles, Gisborne’s Madeline Stewart, and Brianna Dalrymple-Monro in stints with Sandhurst and Strathfieldsaye.
A dual winner of Bendigo’s Sports Star of the Year and Hall of Fame member, Sharelle McMahon from Lockington-Bamawm said Thompson was a major influence on her career which went on to include world championship and Commonwealth Games victories.
Many who were or continue to be players, umpires, administrators, and coaches speak glowingly about Betty Thompson’s contribution to a game enjoyed by millions.
The Basil Ashman Hall of Fame is at Red Energy Arena in West Bendigo.