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National Sports Convention founder Martin Sheppard explains vision to make the most of a ‘generational opportunity’ for sport

National Sports Convention founder Martin Sheppard explains vision to make the most of a ‘generational opportunity’ for sport
July 11, 2022

Commencing today at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Australia’s largest community sport and recreation convention, the National Sports & Physical Activity Convention (NSC) and Expo will present insights into what event founder Martin Sheppard calls a “generational opportunity” for sport.

In an interview in the latest edition of Australasian Leisure Management magazine, Sheppard, Managing Director of the Smart Connection Consultancy and NSC founder considers the development of the event and how it fits into Australia’s community sport, recreation and physical activity ecosystem.

With the theme Blueprint for the Next Decade, NSC 2002 considers aspects of the decade of major sporting events that Australia will host along with the post-COVID challenges of physical activity among the wider community.

Created in 2013 with a focus on synthetic sports surfaces - where Sheppard is an internationally respected consultant - the NSC has grown pre-COVID to hosting 1,000 delegates and 500 at the Expo, with co-located conferences also aligned. NSC22 sees the bringing together of over 75 speakers, 70 exhibitors and an expected 600 industry delegates over two days in July, as the conference bounces back after the pandemic.

Exploring his vision for the NSC to be seen as Australia and New Zealand’s leading vehicle for bringing the industry together to challenge the norms, to change the narratives and collectively lay the foundations for the future, the event, supported by over 40 peak bodies and collaborators is an examples of how Sheppard has sought to bring the industry together over his more than two decades in Australia.

Looking forward to NSC 2022, Sheppard explains “2022 is the starting point for the next decade, during COVID so many alliances were established between peak bodies, sports, providers and academia. In my 25 years in Australia, I have never seen such camaraderie and desire to align the narratives, this is really exciting.

“This year’s NSC focuses are around how we can understand all the various approaches and collectives in a manner that can benefit the next decade. Kieren Perkins OAM (Chief Executive of the Australian Sports Commission), will share his vision for the next decade, followed by a global vision exploring other organisations visions for the next decade with Chief Executives and Chairs and leaders from Sport New Zealand, Sport Singapore, Sport England, International Play Association, The Danish Foundation for Culture and Sports Facilities and the International Paralympic Association. These two sessions open the NSC as part of the NSC Oration, on the afternoon of Monday 11th July with delegates and industry VIPs.”

Looking forward, Sheppard notes “we are currently developing a strategy with key global and Australasian peak bodies and industry alliances. Over the next five years I see that the NSC will continue to be the annual focal point for the sectors to get together. We will endeavour to bring global industry leaders to Australia annually, and align them with key alliances, peak bodies and influencers so that the Australian and New Zealand industry is aware of global best practice which it can embrace and then ‘Australasianise’ it.

“NSC will align with other global conferences and bring them to Melbourne and we will be making some announcements over the next few months about what that means. We have also been asked by a number of peak bodies if they can locate their national conference with the NSC, so their members can benefit from hearing some global perspectives, networking and still having their own branded conference. We see that as a perfect vehicle for everyone. The industry is the winner there. These co-located conferences will likely start in 2024 when our first global conference will also be co-located. It is exciting times for organisations who want to collaborate and have improved collective outcomes for the industry. NSC does, and we cant wait to work with other like-minded people and organisations.”

Since completing the interview with Australasian Leisure Management, the NSC has also agreed a Memorandum of Understanding with the European-based International Association for Sports and Leisure Facilities (IAKS) to partner with, providing greater access to the latest global insights to the Australian community aquatic, recreation and sport facilities market.

Among a range of benefits, the MoU partnership will see the IAKS Southern Hemisphere Global Conference co-located with the NSC in 2024.

Sheppard is also delighted that, in a late addition to the NSC program, new Federal Minister for Sport Anika Wells will make her first address in her role at the event.

Minister Wells’ address to the NSC is a late addition to the event program and will be made prior to proceedings commencing on the morning of Wednesday 13th July.

The NSC is being held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) from 11th to 13th July.

Click here for more information on the National Sports and Physical Activity Convention in the Australasian Leisure Management industry Calendar.

The full interview is available to  Australasian Leisure Management subscribers. Click here to access the electronic version of the magazine.

Images: Martin Sheppard (top) and pictured beloe centre at the recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the NSC and the International Association for Sports and Leisure Facilities (IAKS) with IAKS President Stefan Kannewischer and IAKS Secretary General Klaus Meinel.

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