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Department of Premier and Cabinet

Nita Burke (nee French)

Nita Burke (nee French) (Member 1991)

b. 27 April 1937

After a very successful junior netball career, Nita directed her considerable sporting prowess towards the new sport of basketball, first representing Tasmania at the 1956 National Championships from which she was selected to play for Australia at the 1957 Second World Series in Brazil.

This was the first Australian basketball team - male or female to play overseas. Team members received no financial support for this honour and had to do all their own fundraising. Nita was very much a pioneer in the development of what is now one of the most popular sports in this country.

Nita's initial selection for Australia was the first of six national representations, the personal highlight of which was when she captained her country on the very successful 1963 Asian tour, the team winning 14 out of 15 games played.

Remarkably, Nita's great sporting career was achieved while managing a young family of three, as well as having to raise funds for her overseas tours. Two Stars of Sport awards recognised her outstanding ability as a basketballer. Nita retired from international competition in 1966 and immediately became involved in both coaching and administration for the game in which she had been a superb player.