IT wasn’t Lauren Jackson but her younger brother Ross who opened the 12th annual Great Murray River Basketball Jamboree on Saturday.
But it didn’t stop the Albury councillor from being mobbed by hordes of 12-year-old basketballers at the stadium named after his superstar sister.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the tournament, Jackson reminded competitors that fun, not winning, was the aim of the game.
“It’s not about the competition, it’s about the building of friendships,” Jackson said.
“It’s more about participating.
“One thing that’s for sure is that if you get enough kids in the same place and leave them to their own devices they are going to have a good time.”
Lauren never played in the Jamboree but the audience listened intently as Jackson explained the history behind the Lauren Jackson Sports Centre.
It struck a chord with the kids who rushed to his side as he walked out of the stadium.
“I almost got swamped going out the door,” Jackson said.
“The last time something like that happened was about six years ago when a kid asked me to sign his KFC bucket.”
During the tournament more than 200 players, coaches and referees from country NSW, country Victoria, South Australia, the ACT and New Zealand will spend several days learning new skills.
It will finish tomorrow.
In a unique spin on most sporting competitions, the Jamboree mixes teams so players from different areas get to play with each other.
The concept was developed in Europe and involves under-12 boys and girls who not only play basketball but are involved in activities, including other sports.
Jackson said that, along with the Country Cup in January, the Jamboree showed basketball was alive and well on the Border and in country areas.
“You mix this with the Country Cup and it shows how prominent the sport really is,” he said.
Bandits basketball coach Brad Chalmers was a guest speaker at a parents dinner last night.