Athletics in Australia is set to be transformed into one of the biggest participation sports in the country and become more commercially attractable if a newly proposed merger between Athletics Australia and Little Athletics Australia goes ahead.
The disconnect between the popular Little Athletics and senior open-age athletics, which governs the sport from club competitions to the Olympics, has been one of the biggest impediments to growth for the sport and the ability to leverage the sport commercially.
If seen through, the merger to create OneAthletics, a new national sporting organisation to be responsible for athletics in Australia, will deliver a clearer pathway for athletes, coaches and officials throughout their life in sport.
“This is an important and exciting day,” Athletics Australia President, Mark Arbib, said.
“Our goal is to see athletics become the largest participation sport in the country and we are excited to have the opportunity to unite with Little Athletics to help make this happen.
“Our vision is to create a clear pathway that will drive life-long involvement from Little Athletics to juniors, seniors, and masters.
“By providing a simpler structure and an improved transition for teenagers going into senior athletics, we will keep athletes in the sport for longer; improving our potential talent pool and helping to unearth the next Catherine Freeman, Sally Pearson, Jared Tallent or Brandon Starc.”
“The proposed merger will allow for better use of organisational resources and improved administration.
“It will also drive more commercial opportunities, product innovation and reduced duplication.”
Little Athletics Australia President, Andrew Pryor advised “the name ‘Little Athletics’ will be proudly retained, as it has an iconic position in the children’s sporting landscape and will be given fresh impetus with the backing of new clubs and the wider athletics family.
“Little Athletics will focus on tiny tots to 12-year-olds and will deliver athletics into primary schools.”
Pryor believes that OneAthletics will simplify the member pathway and remove the confusion of overlapping products, adding “the united approach to the sport brings the pieces of the jigsaw together and allows us to develop new pieces with joint expertise – the benefits to our members will be profound.”
Over the next 12 months, the two organisations will enter a process to develop a transition plan to create one national organisation, with one constitution and one board.
The current boards of both organisations will remain in place until October 2020, with a new Governance Committee to be established in November 2019.
All State and Territory Member Associations affiliated with Athletics Australia and Little Athletics Australia will be members of, and supported by the new entity that the OneAthletics project delivers.