When you are in charge of handing out money your are always going to be popular with those who receive and far from popular with those who miss out. The Australian Sports Commission (ASC)is no doubt well aware of the situation, and have upset many with their latest funding announcements.
The biggest losers were Tennis and Surf Lifesaving who both lost over $400,000 of funding. Cricket lost 200k, AFL 194k, Athletics 50k Football350k Pentathlon 25k (this was for one athlete) and Squash 320k. Many have asked why mainstream sports such as Cricket, AFL, Football and Rugby Union are still receiving money when they have multi-million dollar television deals and it would be hard to argue with that thinking. These monies though tend to be spent on development and youth international teams, as the ASC confirms in its Investment allocation 2014–15 document:
“Consistent with the high performance investment principle which takes account of a national sporting organisation’s own revenue, the ASC has decided to cease to invest in the high performance programs for sports with significant broadcast and other commercial revenue. These sports are iconic for Australians and highly successful, setting an example for other sports. The ASC will continue to invest in these sports for participation in 2014–15. The AIS has worked closely with these sports and will continue to seek alternative partnerships and collaboration that are mutually beneficial. The AIS will continue to invest in the successful women’s cricket team.”
Squash’s funding has been withdrawn for the following reason: “The high performance investment allocation for squash will reduce by $320,000 (–35 per cent) for 2014–15. Squash has been assessed as having limited ability to contribute to Winning Edge targets. The ASC will provide transition funding of $100,000 for 2014–15 to assist the sport to restructure its programs and operations.”
When it comes to Paralympic sports Powerlifting and football are the two sports to suffer a funding withdrawal.
The reason Powerlifting has seen its funding withdrawn which will be a major blow to rapidly improving lifters from WA Ben Wright and Nang Nguyen, was as follows: “The high performance investment allocation for powerlifting will be withdrawn for 2014–15 ($55,000 in 2013–14). The ASC has determined that the sport is unlikely to contribute to Australia’s 2016 Paralympic Games medal target. There are currently few international-standard athletes in the system and the high performance pathway is not sufficient to increase the depth of athletes.” Both of these lifters have been steadily improving and breaking their own personal records, they now have to overcome this lack of belief in their abilities, hopefully it is the spur to prove the ASC wrong.
In able-bodied football the ASC explains: “The high performance investment allocation for football will be reduced by $350,000 (-15 per cent) for 2014-15. The ASC investment in men’s football is for the pathway teams, in particular the Joeys (under 17) and the Olyroos (under 23). The ASC considers that based on current performance, these teams have limited potential to contribute to Winning Edge targets in the foreseeable future. The ASC acknowledges the significant achievement of the Soccerroos in qualifying for its third straight World Cup given the international competitiveness of football as a sport.” This confirms a belief held by many that the development programs under the FFA have fallen well short of those they inherited.
The ASC continues by saying, “The high performance investment allocation for Paralympic football will be withdrawn for 2014-15 ($175,000 in 2013-14) as the performance profile of the sport suggests it is unlikely to qualify for the 2016 Paralympic Games.
The ASC continues to invest in the women’s high performance football program and will continue to invest in participation for 2014–15.”
This was a body blow to the Para-roos as it basically implied that the team would not be good enough to make it to Rio in 2016.
Australia is currently the only team in Paralympic football in Oceania, and are ranked 10th in the World. To qualify for the Olympics teams must finish in the last eight at the 16 team World Cup. Being ranked 10th in the World one would have thought that the Para-roos would be worth the investment as if they can break into the top eight, something many believe is achievable, they would book their place to Rio.
The withdrawal of funding now means that leading up to the World Cup they will be short of meaningful match practise and will be unable to attend tournaments featuring other international teams, so that they can gauge their level and the work needed to be done. This will also effect their world ranking and could affect their seeding at competition and result in a much harder pathway to qualification. So the withdrawal of the funding could be a self fulfilling prophecy. This is very sad for a program that was making great headway.
Not the Footy Show believes that the good news is the Football Federation of Australia(FFA) are contesting this withdrawal of funding, and hopefully they are successful. If they are not it will be interesting to see what they do to help this program. With each Socceroo in the World Cup squad believed to have earned $20k per game it would be great to see an international played where the able bodied players each donated half of their match fee to their Paralympic counterparts as that would actually result in more than the funding they have lost!
Let us hope that somehow money is found to help the Para-roos and the powerlifters, even if it is no longer coming from the government.