Wednesday, 20 April 2016
Calling on government to better fund sports academies
A HEALTHY approach to sport has powerful positive effects on and off the field, which is why Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall has begun knocking on doors in Macquarie Street, arguing the case for an increase in funding from the state government for the Northern Inland Academy of Sport (NIAS).
NIAS, along with the State’s other 10 regional sports academies, has been receiving $148,000 a year for the past eight years. The academies are renegotiating a five-year funding agreement with the State Government, which expires in December.
Mr Marshall, who is former chairman of the board of NIAS, is backing a push to have each academy’s annual funding raised to close to $250,000.
It’s not just about sport, Mr Marshall said.
NIAS’s philosophy of “developing potential on and off the field” doesn’t just train good athletes: it means more healthy, engaged young people in northern NSW communities.
“When our young elite athletes have access to psychologists, nutritionists and other sports medicine practitioners, they are being supported to develop a healthy, happy well-rounded approach to their sport,” Mr Marshall said.
The additional funds that NIAS and other academies are seeking is “more than a reasonable request”, in Mr Marshall’s view.
“The academies have had to tighten their collective belts,” he said. “Tight budgets are limiting the programs they are able to offer. It also limits the number of high performance coaches and specialist medical staff they are able to access.
“In many cases, the only obstacle between our young athletes and their potential is the ability to access professional coaching and elite sporting pathways.”
Over many years of association with NIAS, Mr Marshall has been repeatedly impressed with the quality of the programs the academy provides for the region’s athletes and coaches.
And he is determined that the essential service provided by NIAS and other regional academies should be maintained, and where possible, expanded.
“I intend to knock on all the relevant ministerial and departmental doors to ensure this request for an increase in funding does not go through to the keeper,” he said.
Mr Marshall has already begun lobbying for the increase in academy funding to be built into the upcoming State Budget, and is asking his fellow Nationals to do the same.
NIAS currently runs nine sports programs: Golf, Hockey (boys and girls), Junior Bull Riding, Mountain Biking, Netball, Tennis, Touch, Water Polo, the Individual Scholarship Lone Star program and a Regional Athlete and Coach Education (RACE) program.
NIAS identifies and supports 160 athletes and 25 coaches in the North West/New England each year.