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Contract Management Not to Blame for Coaching Decline

Contract Management Not to Blame for Coaching Decline
September 30, 2009

Aquatic management professionals have responded to claims that the contract management of facilities is to blame for a decline in the numbers of marquee coaches and elite swimming performance.

The claims, by journalist Phil Lutton, in an article Where have the coaches gone? Dire straits for elite sport on Fairfax Digital's The Brisbane Times on 4th September, warn of dire consequences for swimming "if urgent action is not taken to replenish the nation's dwindling stocks of elite coaches."

The article quoted Scott Volkers, the coach man behind Olympic champion Susie O'Neill and the current Head Coach at the Queensland Academy of Sport, as saying "the leasing of public pools to large leisure companies is squeezing out marquee coaches, with Australia's international performance destined to âcrumbleâ as a result."

On behalf of Belgravia Leisure, singled out in Lutton's story as the apparent cause of this decline, Chief Executive Adrian Johnston has explained that the company was "disappointed" at the article's "bias".

As Johnston states "when we have taken on facilities with elite swimming programs we work to make sure they continue and develop as part of the inclusive services we seek to offer."

In a further article, 'Not to Blame, in the just published September/October 2009 issue of Australasian Leisure Management, Publisher Nigel Benton explores the subject of the decline in funding of elite swimming, but comes to very different conclusions to the article in The Brisbane Times.

As Benton writes "that Australian elite swimming is under unprecedented pressure is widely acknowledged."

Benton's article also quotes Australia's Head Swimming Coach Alan Thompson, who oversaw Australia's record Games haul of 20 swimming medals at last year's Beijing Olympics, who stated that Australian sport faces a crisis if more money is not forthcoming, saying "we are on the verge of a crisis in Australian sport if we don't get any help."

As for the balance between elite coaching and public access to aqautic centres, consultant Martin Sheppard of the Smart Connection Company explains, "managers and management companies have to achieve a balance between elite swimming, community programming and a range of social objectives.

"Public pools are there for more than elite swimming but a balance can be achieved across all aquatic activities and objectives."

Read the full article in the September/October 2009 issue of Australasian Leisure Management.

The Brisbane Times article can be read at



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