I need to fess up.
With so many second generation basketball players around the game these days, I’ve got to admit, seeing the name Annie La Fleur on the Queanbeyan Yowies roster made me think that Annie must have a daughter of the same name.
I knew the real Annie was working out of Canberra in her role as Development Manager for FIBA Oceania but she wouldn’t still be playing. Or would she?
Let me think now….. she was on the 2000 Olympic team that won silver and that was definitely at the back end of her career. Nah, can’t be, she’s too old.
“I’ll be 46 this year Phil” she said rather proudly when I popped the question. Yes, Annie La Fleur, Olympic medalist, world championship medalist, dual WNBL championship winner with the Sydney Flames and WNBA player with Minnesota and Washington is playing in the Waratah League finals this weekend in Sutherland with the Queanbeyan Yowies.
So about 30ks away from the site of the Sydney Olympics where she and her Opals team mates battled USA for the gold, 15 years later she will be in Sutherland with her Yowies team mates to play a semi final against Bathurst on Saturday for the right to meet either Newcastle or Maitland in Sunday’s NSW league decider.
Annie laughs when I ask what she is doing still playing but the fact is that she has never really stopped (apart from 18 months following WNBL retirement to allow an injured foot ligament to repair)
“I’m still competitive and it’s still fun. If I can run up and down and make a difference well that’s good enough for me.”
More than competitive it seems. Yowies coach Chris Higgisson has never had to deal with anyone like her. “She drives training. She drives the team. She just loves to beat people. Every drill is a competition with Annie.”
In the last game against the Bathurst Goldminers she tossed in a lazy 20 points in what the coach described as a clinic. For Annie it was a chance to have a run around. “I’m not one that likes to go to the gym so playing a game of basketball is ideal for me.”
She sounds casual but the old hard-nosed competitor will always remain in her DNA. The Waratah League might be a couple of rungs down from the WNBL but the same level of motivation applies. “It means so much to these girls. They’ve been to the finals a few times and lost in the semis so helping them get what they want is the biggest thing for me.”
No, Annie doesn’t have a daughter. She has a 21yo son who lives with his dad, former Brisbane Bullet Andre La Fleur, in the USA. Annie, who was born in Papua New Guinea, cares for her mum in Canberra when she’s not travelling the Pacific spreading the FIBA gospel.