Merger proposal to streamline Little Athletics

The Ipswich Little Athletics Centre could soon come under a new national body structure to bolster the sport.


ATHLETICS:  Ipswich Little Athletics Centre manager Melissa Smith didn’t expect any adverse implications to come from the OneAthletics Proposal to create a new national sporting organisation.

A successful merger plan between Athletics Australia and Little Athletics Australia was put forward to transform athletics into one of the biggest participation sports in the country.

“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 name ‘Little Athletics’ will be retained, as it has an iconic position in the children’s sporting landscape.

“It will be given fresh impetus with the backing of new clubs and the wider athletics family,” said Little Athletics Australia president Andrew Pryor.

“Little Athletics will focus on tiny tots to 12-year-olds and will deliver athletics into primary schools.”

While yet to see the full details, Smith saw no immediate impact at local level, where the Ipswich Little Athletics Centre is one of the leading bodies in Queensland.

“Everything will still be the same as far as I know,” she said.

“Once it all hits, LAQ (Little Athletics Queensland) will release that to us.”

Ipswich Little Athletics Centre manager Melissa Smith.

Dedicated official Smith said specific benefits might include providing a clearer transition between age groups in events like hurdling.

Youngsters currently run over different distances at various competitions.

Pryor believes the OneAthletics model will simplify the member pathway and remove the confusion of overlapping products.

“The united approach to the sport brings the pieces of the jigsaw together and allows us to develop new pieces with joint expertise,” he said.

“The benefits to our members will be profound.”

Sport Australia is a supporter of the OneAthletics proposal.

“It’s encouraging to see Athletics Australia and Little Athletics Australia proactively working together with a shared vision to grow the sport of athletics,” said Sport Australia CEO Kate Palmer.

“Athletics is seeking to unlock its potential to deliver greater international success and support the Federal Government’s objective to get more Australians moving more often.”

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.

A new Governance Committee would be established next month.

Under the proposal, 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.

Additional information supplied by athletics organisations.