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AIS programs aim to elevate women coaches in Australian high performance sport

AIS programs aim to elevate women coaches in Australian high performance sport
September 9, 2021

As the Australian Institute of Sport continues to prioritise the progress of women in Australian high performance sport, they are offering two new professional development programs in which 47 talented pathway coaches – 33 women – are participating.

The AIS Elevate Coach program is partnering with leading tertiary institutions to deliver professional development for two focus groups of pathway coaches: one for women coaches; and another for former high performance athletes now focused on coaching.

28 coaches from 20 different sports are participating in the inaugural AIS Elevate Women Coach program, while former Rugby Sevens Olympic gold medallist Emilee Cherry is among five women and a total 19 coaches chosen for the AIS Elevate Athlete2Coach program. In total, the programs comprise 47 coaches from 27 different sports, including Paralympic specialists.

Federal Minister for Sport, Richard Colbeck said it was another positive step towards increasing the prominence of elite women leaders in sport and notes “It was incredible to see a record majority of female athletes represent Australia at the Tokyo Olympics and win the bulk of medals but, along with the leadership of the AIS, the Australian Government is committed to addressing the under-representation of women in other sporting roles, particularly coaching.

“The individuals selected for these AIS Elevate coaching programs are now undertaking an intensive six-month course, but it is part of a longer-term vision to increase the diversity in our Australian coaching ranks so the make-up of our sporting leaders is more reflective of the athletes they guide and the nation they represent. Many of these coaches will be dedicated to identifying and progressing our most talented young athletes and there is a huge incentive on the horizon with the 2032 Brisbane Olympics and Paralympics on home soil.”

Australian Sports Commission Chair Josephine Sukkar said the new coaching programs were in addition to other AIS programs launched this year focused on women leaders in sport.

“The AIS currently has two other programs underway to support the advancement of women in leadership roles, the AIS Talent Program focused on women in sport science, technology engineering and medicine, and the AIS Accelerate program which aims to increase career pathway options in sport for retiring women athletes.

“The Australian Sports Commission, including the AIS and Sport Australia, is determined to see more girls and women in sport, from playing fields to board rooms. We are focused on strategies and programs that can help attract, retain and elevate more women in sport, across all roles and all sports. The 33 women involved in these two new Elevate Coach programs are linked with 23 different sports, which means these targeted development programs can have wide-spread impact.”

Olympic gold medallist and pioneer of women’s Rugby Sevens, Emilee Cherry announced her playing retirement in February this year and has since been coaching with the NSW Rugby’s Development Academy. Cherry has experienced first-hand the progress for women athletes in recent years and said it was encouraging to see more professional development opportunities being created for women in other roles across sport.

Cherry advised “women’s sport has exploded for players in recent years, but there’s been a lag in having more women in coaching and senior management roles. I’m sure there will be a flow-on effect of more women players into coaching and other roles within sport.

“Coaching is a new pathway for me, but I’ve learned from great coaches throughout my career, I’ve always loved the tactical side of the game and I have a teaching degree. I think this AIS program will help me develop in other skill areas coaches need, like player management. I’m so grateful for the support I’ve received from the AIS and Rugby Australia.”

AIS Chief Executive, Peter Conde said the AIS Elevate Coach programs had a strong educational component and he commended the collaboration with La Trobe University, University of Sydney and University of Queensland. These programs are part of the AIS Performance Pathway strategy, but also align significantly to the AIS’s National Coach Development Strategy, launched this year and aimed at making Australia the world leader in modern high performance coaching development before the end of the decade.

“The results in Tokyo were a huge boost, but the AIS’s vision is to build sustainable success for Australian sport.

“It’s fundamental, therefore, to continue investing in the professional development of pathway coaches and, more broadly, the high performance workforce guiding Australia’s emerging athletes.

“In addition to these AIS Elevate Coach programs, the AIS has this year provided almost $130,000 in AIS Elevate Learning Grants to support the education and professional development of 43 Performance Pathway practitioners and coaches. These staff are crucial in helping identify, develop, support and progress our most talented athletes.”

AIS Elevate Women Coach program
Cathalina Walsh (Athletics); Lisa Norrie (Baseball); Kristen Veal (Basketball); Jessica Cashman (Boxing); Haley Jones (Cycling); Emma Lynch (Diving); Liz Doherty, Helen Winterburn (Football); Rachel Bailey (Golf); Alison Morgan, Crystal Yeo (Gymnastics); Stephanie Andrews (Hockey); Alison Tucker-Munro; Jennifer Wright (Netball); Demi Obrien (Paddle); Christine McLaren, Hally Chapman, Judith Ungemach (Rowing); Lyneene Orsini (Softball); Amanda Hopps, Jemma Wratten (Squash); Chelsea Hedges (Surfing); Abby Sangalang (Taekwondo); Teresa Theaker, Janine Kaye (Triathlon); Edwina McCarron, Anne Meijnderts (Volleyball); Georgina Kovacs Muller (Water Polo)

AIS Elevate Athlete2Coach program
Steve Cain (Athletics); Ben Walkemeyer, Hayley Clarke, Annie Eastgate, Brody Riley (Sailing); Jonathon Dean (Cricket); Kevin Chavez (Diving); Daniel Whyley (Golf); Kyle McIndoe (Judo); Tully Watt (Modern Pentathlon); Jed Altschwager (Rowing); Emilee Cherry (Rugby Union 7s); Biba Turnbull, Cahill Bell-Warren (Surfing); Rick Pendleton, Thomas Fraser-Holmes (Swimming); Thomas Auger (Taekwondo); Vedran Cirkovic (Water Polo); Ethan Topalovic (Winter Sport).

Image: Hockeyroos Assistant Coach Stephanie Andrews was appointed Head Coach of the Western Australian Institute of Sport (WAIS) Hockey Program commencing April 2021. Andrews is the first woman to be assigned to the overarching position, which forms part of the Hockey Australia National Athlete Pathway Program. The role is responsible for developing WA talent to be considered for future Hockeyroos and Kookaburras squads.

Related Articles

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18th May 2021 - Sport Australia and AIS acknowledge volunteers for delivering the ‘most important job in sport’

2nd July 2021 - Australian Institute of Sport introduces new resource to help enhance athlete wellbeing

9th April 2021 - Australian Institute of Sport program to enhance career path options for women athletes

25th January 2021 - Australian Institute of Sport to mark 40 years of operations and achievement

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1st December 2018 - Australian Institute of Sport cuts funding to sports deemed to have lower medal winning prospects

28th May 2018 - Australian Institute of Sport set for Summit launch of new Athlete Wellbeing and Engagement division

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