At the conclusion of a review process that began almost immediately after the 2012 London Olympic Games ended the Australian Sports Commission unveiled their new plan for sport in the land down under on Friday.
The new plan is entitled ‘Winning Edge’ and the program will be headed up by the Australian Institute of Sport Director Matthew Favier.
The Aussies have set their sights high setting the goals of:
Being a top five nation at the Summer Olympics and Paralympics
Being a top 15 nation at the Winter Olympics and Paralympics
Being he number one nation at the Commonwealth Games
To have 20 world champions annually
John Wiley, the Sport Commission’s Chair, was quoted on the ASC website as saying,
‘In the past our international sporting achievements were the envy of the world. However, many countries have now replicated our innovations and tapped in to our expertise.’
‘International competition is intensifying and improving all the time and we believe Australians want, and indeed expect, us to respond to the challenge and restore our pre-eminent position in world sport.
‘To do this we need a long-term plan to invest in sports where there is the best chance of success, implement a robust and goal-oriented planning cycle and ensure best practice governance and the right support is in place.’
Wiley has made it clear he feels that the goals are very achievable and one of the biggest reasons for that is the passion the Australian people have to succeed and those in charge of sport simply need to be smarter in the way they conduct their business.
Since the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney the Aussies have seen their performance in steady decline:
2000 Olympics – 58 medals (16 gold, 25 silver, 17 bronze) and 4th in the medal standings
2004 Olympics – 50 medals (17 gold, 16 silver, 17 bronze) and 4th in the medal standings
2008 Olympics – 46 medals (14 gold, 15 silver, 17 bronze) and 6th in the medal standings
2012 Olympics – 35 medals (7 gold, 16 silver, 12 bronze) and 10th in the medal standings
The ASC has outlined several of the ways that they plan to improve their effectiveness
The first is the process of deciding how each sport will receive their funding. In the new plan each National Sporting Organization will present a plan and outline a performance review to the ASC each year which will be published and available to the public.
When the ASC is determining the amount of funding a specific NSO will receive they will look at such factors as:
- The sports ability to contribute to the plans stated goals (see above)
- The sports ability to demonstrate integrity, which will include anti-doping policies and procedures, that will enhance Australia’s image internationally as well as create a positive example for all Australians
- The sports ability to demonstrate a high quality of governance, adminstrative and financial practices so that the ASC can see that the NSO is using public money effectively
- The sports ability to create and present a high performance plan with mutually agreed upon targets which the NSO will be accountable to show progress towards
- The sports ability to co-invest in their organization by increasing the funds brought in through commercial, philantrophic and sponsorship opportunities
- The sports ability to show responsible use of their funding
- The sports ability to contribute success on the international stage which will include such things as potential medals, international environment, competition opportunities, medals available*, individual athletes and the depth of field.
- The sports ability to demonstrate a strong talent pipeline and support structure for the development of athletes potential
*The medals available will take into consideration that in a sport like basketball there are six medals awarded where in a sport like swimming there are 32 medals available
NSOs will also have the opportunity to be awarded $1.5 million of funding as an increased investment in their coaching and high performance team. Each NSO will provide a proposal of the new programs that they plan to develop to enhance their staff effectiveness in program delivery.
One of the Australian Institute of Sports main responsibilities will be to focus on the development and retention of coaches. The ASC’s goal is for the AIS to be the world leader in coaching and leadership education and support.
The process AIS will use to achieve this goal has been stated in three points:
- a formal structure of tertiary-recognised study as part of the development route, including graduate certificates, graduate diplomas and masters degrees in coaching and leadership
- continuing professional development opportunities and recognition in terms of coach/performance leader awards or credits outside university accreditation
- a formal mentoring and executive coaching program for high performance coaches and performance leaders
To develop their coaching and leadership initiatives as well as an increase in the support of more high performance athletes the AIS will put an additional investment of $20 million into these programs over the next four years.
Michael Bohl, the coach of many successful international swimmers including Stephanie Rice, appears to be happy with the decision to invest more into the country’s coaches. He was quoted in the Herald Sun as saying, “If we lose a lot of coaches it makes our job harder. Any move to help retain and develop coaches is a welcome one because there are a lot of coaches doing it tough.”
The AIS will hold a ‘Sports Draft Camp’ (which sounds a lot like the NFL combine) where talent identification experts will be able to spot and direct athletes that have the potential to excel in specific sports.
In the ‘Winning Edge’ plan talent identification is a major priority which will include such things as:
- Talent Pool Expansion – this where professional athletes who wish to compete in Olympic sports and high performance athletes who wish to compete in sports that have similar skill demands as the sport in which they compete in (such as gymnastics and diving) will be supported in transfer programs
- Talent Enrichment Team – this is where the AIS will work with NSOs to provide services in areas such as physiology, nutrition, psychology, etc..
The ASC will also invest an extra $2 million annually to support these programs.
The plan has been well received by many in the Australian sporting community, especially in the way that it increases the responsibility and accountable of the individual NSOs. Barclay Nettlefold the President of Swimming Australia was quoted in the ‘Australian’ as saying his sport would be happy to take control of its AIS program.”It’s a great initiative. It will drive our sport and all sports to be more accountable and it will take the favouritism out of funding.”
Through an article published by the Australian Olympic Committee, the President of the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC), John Coates, welcomed the new plan saying it “is clearly focused on the steps necessary to ensure continued international success across all sports.”