Softball Australia’s Pathways Program receives significant boost beyond 2020

Softball Australia’s Pathways Program receives significant boost beyond 2020

Softball Australia is delighted to have secured significant funding from the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) to assist in the development of the next generation of Softball athletes.

The funding paves the way for National Pathway Battery Coordinator, Karen Marr to continue her duties of overseeing the development of training programs specifically for pitchers and catchers, conduct of battery camps and working closely with the junior pathways to develop battery programs.

Previously, Marr’s position operated under the High Performance team’s budgetary restrictions, now with additional funding secured, Marr’s position has been extended thus allowing for more face-to-face coaching of identified pathways athletes across the country.

David Pryles, Chief Executive Officer at Softball Australia, says the support of softball from the AIS will prove invaluable as the sport is omitted from the Olympic cycle in 2024.

“The International Olympic Committee confirmed this week that softball would not be one of the sports played at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games,” said Pryles.

“However, given the likelihood that softball will be played at the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, we need to start preparing potential athletes to be as competitive as possible, and our thanks goes to the AIS for assisting us with a generous grant towards our pathways program.

“Karen’s position continuing with Softball Australia is enormous for our development pathways and with her help, we can begin to identify and form the nucleus of an Australian Olympic team in 2028.”

Further to Marr’s position continuing, Softball Australia will now be able to provide opportunities for emerging athletes to receive valuable experience in a high performance environment after a number of events in 2020 were either cancelled or re-scheduled due to COVID-19.

The immediate opportunity includes provision of an intensive training camp at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) for the U18 Junior Aussie Spirit team, as well as providing elite level competition as soon as travel restrictions allow for it.

“The intensive camp at the AIS will provide the team members with the opportunity to gain insight into the daily life of being an elite level athlete, encompassing activity such as strength and conditioning, recovery and nutrition sessions, biomechanical filming and testing plus more,” added Pryles.

“Offering an intensive AIS training and competition camp will be a huge morale boost for these girls and we can keep that passion for the game alive to hopefully continue on with their softball careers.”

The AIS delivering on its $35million commitment over two years to help sports identify and develop Australia’s talented athletes of the future.

The funding comprises:

  • $21.6million in Performance Pathways Solutions grants, an initiative that helps sports implement strategies that develop their emerging athletes, and:
  • $13.7m in Pathways Workforce Grants to 36 NSOs, funding the equivalent of more than 45 full-time positions over two years in areas such as pathway leadership, coaching, sport science and sports medicine support.

AIS CEO Peter Conde said high performance sports had identified supporting athlete pathways as their biggest challenge prior to COVID-19 and, despite this year’s disruptions to sport, it remained a priority.

“Pathways support is critical to the future of Australian sport, helping the AIS and sports to discover and develop our champions of the future,” Conde said.

“In some sports, it can take eight to 12 years to identify and develop a talented young athlete with potential through to them being a contender for medals at major international events. It requires long-term planning, commitment and investment.”