Many of you would now be aware that the proposed merger between Athletics Australia and Little Athletics Australia is not progressing.
There has been a tremendous amount of work undertaken by the Australian Sports Commission, Athletics Australia and Little Athletics Australia towards the goal of unifying Australia’s two major athletics bodies.
Athletics NSW supported the merger proposal and signed up to the Heads of Agreement. We did this as we believed that most of our members supported the fundamental concept of ‘one sport’. Furthermore, the Athletics NSW Board understood the benefits of a single body which could unlock the potential that a merger offered for the sport of athletics. These benefits included better pathways for athletes as they progressed in the sport, increased commercial opportunities, greater participation and increased funding for the sport.
We are therefore very disappointed that the national merger will not be progressing.
Despite this set back nationally, the relationship at state level between Athletics NSW and Little Athletics NSW has been and continues to be a strong one. We hope that the relationship can be further strengthened and we will look for opportunities to work more closely with Little Athletics at a state and club/centre level. The popularity and success of Little Athletics continues to be the benchmark for all junior sports. It provides a fantastic introduction to our sport for junior athletes and also acts as a feeder mechanism for senior competitions and is integral to the future of our elite programs. Working in a co-operative way can only be good for both levels of the sport of athletics in NSW.
We are very fortunate in NSW that up to 40% of ANSW and LAs athletes are members of clubs or centres that are affiliated with both state bodies. In the key teenage groups this figure rises to almost 60%. Both state bodies share resources such as development officers, officials and coaches. In most country areas Little Athletics and senior clubs are one and the same.
Athletics NSW has a clear strategic direction that parallels the national direction of athletics and reflects the realities of our sport, as well as key objectives, challenges and opportunities. Over the coming years we intend delivering on these objectives and support our member clubs and their athletes achieve success.
Whilst the merger proposal was an opportunity for the sport of athletics, all is not lost. Athletics NSW will continue to offer strong and vibrant competitions, broaden the participation in athletics through innovative events, support athletes reach their potential, provide leadership to clubs, coaches and officials and of course, continue to partner with Little Athletics.
I would also like to take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a very special Christmas and safe and Happy New Year.
Yours in Athletics
Chairman – Athletics NSW
18 December 2013