It was interesting to read this morning that former Sports Minister Mark Arbib speaking at a lunch in Sydney on Wednesday stated as Not The Footy Show did back in 2010 (Money needed to make the Sporting World Go Around) that some of our elite athletes who have come through programs such as the AIS should be required to give money back to the system.
On Sportsbusinessinsider.com he is quoted as saying “there has been a lot of discussion around should there be a type of HECS for athletes that go through the AIS. This is a discussion that happens at the policy level but also I mean academics talk a lot about it and there are similar systems overseas. As a minister I did look at it, and it is something that may be difficult to implement but at the same time it is something I support. I think there is a space for athletes who are earning at the higher level who went through the AIS or went through an academy to put some money back into sport. And I think that is something that most of them wouldn’t have a problem with, they (Athletes) put a lot of time and effort into community and into their own sport and I think if financially they’re doing well there should be a contribution back the same as if you go through university and pay HECS.”
This is all well and good, but one wonders why it is people like Mr Arbib only see the light when they have left Politics and the power to make a difference?
The same could be said about his comments on Australia’s poor performance at the Olympic Games, “The warning bells for Australian sport are ringing. If we don’t take some steps now to improve some structures and make sure we have the funding in place, then things are not going to turn around and the reason why that worries me as a policy maker and it should worry people in government is because there is a connection between putting people on the podium and participation. The more Australians you put on the podium, the more young Australians who will put down their play stations and go outside and start playing sport. There is a link and we need to make sure they are sport obsessed and keep that going in Rio and beyond.”
The fact is the past few Sports Ministers have been caught napping on the job as Sports fans in Australia witness the top positions being given to “mates” for want of a better word, rather than the best people for the job. The rest of the World looked at Australia ten to fifteen years ago and started copying their processes. Australia sadly did not continue to push those boundaries and have now been surpassed by many other nations in their development programs. Many employed some of the best Australian coaches, while as a result of these programs failing to evolve, Australia suddenly failed to attract the top foreign coaches around the world. On top of that jobs started being given to “mates,” former athletes who at the time of tehir appointment were not ready for such a role.
To stay on top of the world in sport one has to keep moving forward and stay abreast of the changes taking place. Ironically Australia has fallen into the same trap as Great Britain did in the 60’s where a little period of success made them believe everything was great so why the need to change. Some would say Britain has never fully recovered, Australia will, but we need ministers with vision and passion to make those visions become reality. It is no good admitting such things once you have left your position of influence.
Mr Arbib was also asked whether he felt Australia realistically will ever get to host the FIFA World Cup, after he was part of the disastrous bidding process for the 2022 hosting rights. “It’s not impossible that the World Cup will eventually come here but it’s tough and a lot of money has to go into it to make it happen and there really needs to be some decisions if that investment is worth it or if that can be better spent.Personally, now if we are looking for a World Cup, we should probably be looking at a women’s World Cup. I think bringing the women’s World Cup to Australia would be absolutely awesome. We saw the benefits of having it in (Germany) where they were selling stadiums of 100,000 people and I think you would see a similar thing here. And as a father of two daughters, I would love to see my kids one day playing in a football world cup.”
Would that not have been a better option in the first place? Surely we could have shown FIFA and the rest of the World what a good job we made of hosting the Women’s World Cup and that would have given us a foundation to bid for the Men’s version? It continues to appear that the Government went along with the doomed-from-day-one bid purely to try and make an ageing man’s wish come true. It was a very expensive miscalculation, and the money could have been spent so much better on a myriad of other sports.
It is great to hear Mr Arbib saying all of these things, but one can’t help feeling its a little too late now.