LAUREN Jackson will coach the Albury-Wodonga Lady Bandits in 2019.
The three-time WNBA MVP and two-time champion, four-time WNBL MVP and six-time champion said her move to the Border was a long time coming.
It will be Jackson's first coaching job, and her first involvement with the Lady Bandits since she played in the team's first ever game, a win back in March 2006.
“I'm really excited, it'll be a different thing for me in basketball,” she said.
“I really want to give back to the community here and work with all the players and young talent we have.
I think they're really proud I’ve made a commitment, it's been a long time coming but the timing was perfect.Lauren Jackson
“Being a product of Albury-Wodonga, I understand the challenges of being a female athlete in this area and what it takes to succeed, so I'm looking forward to leading this group of girls in 2019.”
Widely regarded as Australia's best ever player, Jackson said she was highly unlikely to return to the court herself – but did not rule it out.
The four-time Olympic medallist made no bones about her hope to lure WNBL-calibre talent to the Border to aid the club's existing young core.
“I was a bit nervous coming here today, but in saying that I'm hoping we can create with my name, who I am and what I've achieved can win more sponsors, more support from the community and council,” she said.
“It's more than coaching, it'll be about trying to promote our sport in the community.
“It'll be difficult – pulling players to the area, you need to have money behind you.
“There's no WNBL club here for players to want to move to the country, so it'll be about getting corporate sponsorship, getting council on board to try and help fund a really good team for this area and then winning a championship, which is my ultimate goal.”
Jackson also ruled out the possibility of further coaching opportunities at a higher level.
The Border basketball legend said the Lady Bandits move was as much about returning home as it was about the team's chances on court.
“This is about giving back to this community, I've not got aspirations to coach elsewhere after next year,” she said.
“I've worked with a WNBL club in Melbourne, if I wanted to go down that route I would have.
“This is about Albury-Wodonga, it's my home town, I want to be here and involved.
“My family were the first people I spoke to about it, my dad (Gary) played for the Bandits, my mum (Maree) was on the board, we have a long association with the Bandits.
“I think they're really proud I’ve made a commitment, it's been a long time coming but the timing was perfect.
Jackson will take over from head coach Jim Wilson, who has played a crucial role in rejuvenating the team during his three years in the job.
- Receive our daily newsletter straight to your inbox each morning from The Border Mail. Sign up here