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Blackburn and Baumann named to Coach Development Taskforce

by Australian Sailing Team 15 Dec 2020 07:20 PST
Michael Blackburn © Australian Sailing Team

The Australian Sailing Team's National Lead Coach Michael Blackburn and Australian Sailing Director Alex Baumann have been named to the Australian Institute of Sport's latest national taskforce, one aimed at making Australia the world leader in modern high performance coaching development before the end of the decade.

The National High Performance Coach Development Taskforce will combine the expertise of the AIS, National Institute Network (NIN) and National Sporting Organisations (NSOs).

Reigning AIS Coach of the year Blackburn did not have to think too hard when asked to be involved.

"It is an honour to be able to play a role in the reinvigoration of high-performance coaching in Australia," said Blackburn at the announcement.

"I have been incredibly lucky to learn from so many coaching greats from a wide spectrum of sports throughout my career. This panel not only gives me the opportunity to give back to the future of coaching in this country, but it also exposes me and the Australian Sailing Team to so many world-class high-performance coaches."

Baumann will be joining the panel in his position as Chief Strategist at Swimming Australia.

AIS CEO Peter Conde said the rapid evolution of modern coaching and the global rivalry for coaching talent meant Australia needed to act now to elevate its coaching ranks across all levels - including community coaching in coordination with Sport Australia.

"The future success of Australian athletes and sport will depend on having a sophisticated, advanced and united coaching development system that is the envy of the world," Conde said.

"The role of a modern high-performance coach is rapidly evolving and expanding. The world's best coaches are no longer just masters of technique and tactics, they need to be experts in managing people and professional networks. They need to set a performance culture, while balancing athlete wellbeing. They are on the frontline when it comes to protecting the integrity of sport.

"Australia has had, and still has, incredible coaches, but we need to build on that with a cohesive national approach so we can expand our coaching pipeline at all levels.

"Australian sport took a giant leap forward last year with the launch of the National High Performance Sport Strategy which enables us to join forces and make significant progress. A coordinated national approach to coaching development is critical to long-term sporting success, it can be Australia's biggest competitive advantage.

"The sporting world is staring at many of the same problems when it comes to coaching, like how to address the vast under-representation of women or how to successfully transition athletes to coaching. Already this taskforce is exploring ideas like applied coaching apprenticeships to turbo-charge the workforce, or cross-sport opportunities to accelerate the development of coaches.

"We're setting high aspirations and by the Los Angeles Olympics in 2028 Australia aims to be amongst the world leaders in the professionalisation and modernisation of elite coaching."

Conde said the national coach development strategy would complement the foundation work the AIS and NIN had already commenced over the past two years in pathway development and wellbeing programs.

The AIS has, over two years, invested $13.2million in Pathways Workforce Grants to 36 National Sporting Organisations (NSOs), which has helped fund more than 45 full-time coaching and pathway leadership positions.

The AIS, in collaboration with La Trobe University, is currently putting 40 Pathways coaches through a 24-week e-learning course, a response to COVID-19.

"To have top-shelf coaches and world-class athletes, you need to upskill coaches at all levels. We want to build a consistent national coaching system, from those working with emerging pathways athletes through to those guiding Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth Games athletes to gold medals," Conde said.

"We need to focus on coach identification, recruitment, development and retention. We're determined to get this right because it's a foundation stone for Australian sporting success."

The National High Performance Coach Development Taskforce: Peter Conde (CEO, AIS), Matti Clements (Director, AIS), Alex Baumann (Chief Strategist, Swimming Australia), Geoff Lipshut (CEO, Olympic Winter Institute of Australia), Adrian Hinchliffe (Head Coach, Diving Australia), Chelsea Warr (CEO, Queensland Academy of Sport), Louise Sauvage (Para-athletics coach, NSW Institute of Sport), Brett Murdoch (Department of Defence), Barry Dancer (Olympic gold medal-winning Hockey coach), Tim Walsh (Coach Men's Sevens, Rugby Australia), Stacey Marinkovich (Coach, Australian Diamonds Netball) Michael Blackburn (Coach, Australian Sailing).

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