SPORT and recreation industries generated $12.8 billion in income and employed around 134,000 Australians in 2011-12, according to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures.    

ABS director Andrew Middleton said in addition to providing significant health and social benefits, sport and physical recreation has major economic importance, which is reflected in the latest household expenditure, production and international trade data.

“Australia exported over $358 million in sport and recreation goods in 2012-13, up 26 percent from the previous year,” Mr Middleton said.

“We found that Singapore has become a major destination for exports of Australian sporting goods and services. The value of these exports to Singapore rose from $15.6 million in 2011-12 to $73.4 million in 2012-13.”

Australian households spent more than $8.2 billion on selected sport and recreation products in 2009-10.

This included $4.4 billion spent on sports and recreation services (such as sports facility hire charges and health and fitness studio charges) and $2.9 billion on sports, physical recreation and camping equipment, including swimming pools.

Further details are in Value of Sport, Australia, 2013 (cat. no. 4156.0.55.002) which is available for free download from the ABS website.




IT IS hard to overstate the impact that an Australian-developed athletic GPS tracking and monitoring system has had on sport around the world.

The cream of the world’s athletes – across sports as diverse as American football, rugby, Australian football, hockey, baseball, tennis, mountain biking and snow boarding – have become used to the small Catapult Sports monitoring system that tucks neatly between their shoulder blades as they train and perform.

Now with the help of Australia’s science research agency, CSIRO, Catapult Sports has taken its systems to a whole new level.

Coaches of elite athletes have been hindered in the monitoring of vital metrics of their rising stars, as reliance on GPS systems to gather information on their power and speed were unreliable in poor signal areas such as indoor stadiums or arenas.

However, the program Tracking Elite Athletes, which uses revolutionary ClearSky Technology, changes all that by fulfilling the needs of coaches and broadcast media for accurate athlete analytics. It is the result of a joint project between CSIRO and Catapult Sports.

Their achievements were recognised by the engineering fraternity, when they were awarded the highly prestigious President’s Award by Engineers Australia, Sydney Division at the 2013 Engineering Excellence Awards Sydney in September last year.

CSIRO research team leader, Mark Hadley said the technology overcomes limitations of GPS systems by combining the indoor tracking components of CSIRO’s Wireless Ad-hoc System for Positioning (WASP) technology with Catapult Sport’s advanced inertial sensors and algorithms, in a sleek exterior designed for use in professional sport.

The current solution is being used to evaluate performances of athletes in the Australian Football League (AFL).

“The technology that this partnership has developed is 10 times more accurate than GPS systems, and in sports where the results are closer and more technical, these results are much more important,” Dr Hadley said.

He said players’ performances can be quantified and improved by making team training more specific based on game demands, combining the work of the coaching staff with that of the fitness staff, and by comparing the performance levels of players with other players, sessions, or predetermined physical goals.

“Seeing the fruits of your research is fantastic, for 95 percent of research projects never go anywhere, so it is great to be a part of a successful one,” Dr Hadley said. “The win provides inspiration to keep going and do better; it is great to get that recognition amongst our peers.”

In a way, the award made Dr Hadley’s team feel like the winning athletes they assist.

"The win is a fantastic honour and part of the excitement behind winning is having the research and the project recognised,” he said. The project was also awarded an Excellence Award in the category of Software and Embedded Systems.

Catapult was founded in 2006 as a part of Federal Government research to develop technology for use in helping to prepare athletes for Olympic competition. The founders of Catapult – Igor Van de Griendt and Shaun Holthouse – worked closely with the Australian Institute of Sport to invent athlete tracking devices.

These devices contain GPS sensors, as well as 10 other inertial and physiological sensors, including accelerometers, gyroscopes, magnetometers and heart rate sensors. The technology found its legs with field sports such as soccer, field hockey and rugby sevens.

The technology was patented and as part of the agreement with the government, Catapult remained a part of the Australian Institute of Sport for a period of time. Once the exclusive time period elapsed, Catapult began working with professional sport around the world.

Its initial clients were largely based in Australia, and the company adopted a client-driven focus in developing the technology and application of the data. Catapult worked closely with Australian football, rugby, basketball, soccer, skiing, swimming and more.

Initially, the focus of the technology was on establishing the exact demands of match competition – something that previously was impossible. Catapult’s critical differentiator between athlete tracking technology and other tracking devices, such as heart rate monitors, is that athlete tracking allows measurement of the external demand and intensity of the movement of the athlete.

Other tracking technologies have focused on the internal response of the athlete, which is equally important, but athlete tracking devices allow the measurement of the workload that elicited that response.

The technology has been applied beyond sport in the US, where Catapult has its base in Ohio, with military training applications and some moves into workplaces to enhance productivity. 



A LAW researcher at Bond University believes the multi-million dollar legal settlement over concussion-related brain injuries to footballers in the US sends a warning signal to Australian football administrators.

Bond University Faculty of Law Assistant Professor Annette Greenhow said although similar litigation would face a number of difficulties in  Australia, football administrators should take notice.

"Australian sporting bodies and commentators have argued that NFL-type litigation is unlikely to succeed here, but the media spotlight has turned on our sporting codes," Ms Greenhow said.

"Reports of players from a number of football codes complaining of cognitive issues arising from their professional playing days means that football administrators need to address these issues by bringing together all those with an interest in concussion in sport, to recognise the growing community concern and to respond proactively to concussion issues.

"The management of player health and welfare, and a commitment to concussion education and research must be high priorities."

The US National Football League (NFL) recently reached a tentative $765 million settlement over concussion-related brain injuries among retired NFL players who joined in the action.

The NFL has agreed to compensate the former footballers, pay for medical exams and underwrite research for claims involving more than 4500 former players.

Ms Greenhow said the US settlement was monumental, both in terms of size and significance.

"The settlement was wrapped in the usual ‘no admission of liability' packaging and justified on a basis of corporate social responsibility and the desire to avoid protracted and expensive litigation," Ms Greenhow said.

"Because the settlement was mediated, rather than litigated, the allegations were not proven in court, and so the question of whether it was more probable than not that the NFL's actions caused or contributed to the injuries of retired players remains undecided.

"Nonetheless, it would be prudent for Australian football administrators to look carefully at their own policies on concussion management, prevention, research and education to ensure that they too are not subject to similar litigation.

"It is clear that the proceedings against football administrators in the US was the catalyst for the NFL Concussion Settlement.

"Australian football administrators need not wait for litigation but should act quickly to take the necessary steps to protect players from the risks posed by this serious and long-lasting harm."


BRISBANE Lions' new elite training and administration facility (ETAF) is being developed as part of a wider regional sport and community recreation precinct at Springfield Central, in the neighbouring Queensland City of Ipswich.

Springfield is a satellite township created by developer and lifestyle entrepreneur Maha Sinnathamby, developed over three decades, which now sports one of Australia's largest shopping precincts, a Greg Norman-designed golf course - Brookwater - an Education Precinct which includes a University of Southern Queensland campus, a Health Precinct and extensive fibre optic cabling  to homes an businesses throughout the community. Recently Springfield has been the beneficiary of extensive road transport links and a rail service linked to the Brisbane-Ipswich line.

The state-of-the-art Brisbane Lions facility, expected to be completed in mid-2016, will be the centrepiece of the new sports and recreation precinct, to be developed adjacent to Springfield Central Railway Station. The club currently has three training venues - the Gabba, Giffin Park at Coorparoo and Yeronga - so the move to Springfield Central will for teh first time see the Lions train at the same venue across the entire year
Federal Minister for Regional Australia, Catherine King announced a $15 million Federal Government budget commitment had been made available for the project - a key piece of infrastructure in the western corridor of south-east Queensland.
As a result of the funding, the Lions and the AFL have signed a heads of agreement (HoA) with the Ipswich City Council and Springfield Land Corporation for the development of the ETAF. The agreement provides a 99-year lease of the site to the Lions.
The development will be located on a five hectare green-field site at Springfield Central, 25km from Brisbane CBD and 15km from Ipswich CBD.
The site will enable the Lions to develop a "best practice" facility, with significant expansion space, capable of accommodating the club's needs fore the foreseeable future.
Lions chairman, Angus Johnson said the green-field site ensured the Lions did not have to compromise on the ETAF and was the only viable long-term option for the club.
"Today is a strategic investment in our future - a world-class facility supporting community assets that everyone at the Brisbane Lions will call home and be proud of,"  Mr Johnson said at the presentation last week.
"It will not only enhance our ability to develop players, but also attract and retain others, while strengthening our ties with the community via an expanded footprint across our region.
"On behalf of the Brisbane Lions, I'd like to thank the Federal Government, the Ipswich City Council, the Springfield Land Corporation and the AFL for their support and vision in bringing this project to fruition.
"The benefits are significant, not only for the Lions, but also for the community given the facilities that will be available to them.
"It's been a long process, but incredibly worthwhile, and I look forward to seeing the development take shape as well as forging stronger ongoing relationships with the local community."
AFL deputy chief executive officer, Gillon McLachlan said,  "We welcome the announcement of this new development and congratulate the Brisbane Lions on securing the club's long-term growth through what will be a world class facility.
"Not only will this facility ensure the Lions remain at the forefront of elite player development but it will also significantly benefit the local community as part of a broader sport and recreation program.
"The Lions have always maintained a strong community connection and that will only be enhanced through this exciting new facility.
"This development equips the Lions with the necessary facilities to achieve a high level of sustained success on a number of fronts, while bolstering their links to one of the country's fastest growing regions.
"On behalf of the AFL I want to thank those parties responsible for making this development a reality, including the Federal Government, the Ipswich City Council and the Springfield Land Corporation."

Federal Minister for Regional Australia, Catherine King, joined Lions chairman Angus Johnson, and CEO, Malcolm Holmes, for the announcement at Springfield Central. They were joined by AFL general manager for Football Operations Mark Evans, Federal Member for Blair Shayne Neumann, Federal Member for Oxley Bernie Ripoll, Springfield Land Corporation deputy chairman Bob Sharpless and Ipswich City Councillor David Morrison.
Key Facts

1.  The first stage of the ETAF development will include:

  • An MCG-sized AFL oval
  • Oval lighting suitable for NAB Cup and NEAFL matches
  • Best practice gymnasium, aquatic recovery, medical, coaching and player development areas
  • Player lounge and study areas
  • Administration headquarters designed to maximise integration across the business
  • Flexible education spaces including dedicated facilities for the Lions community programs
  • A home for the Hyundai Lions Academy
  • Extensive site preparation works associated with the development including the construction of roadways and civic infrastructure

2.   Stage 1 of the ETAF development is expected to cost in the order of $60 million with funding being provided by contributions from the Springfield Land Corporation, Ipswich City Council, Federal Government, Brisbane Lions and the AFL.  Further funding will also be sought from other parties including the Queensland State Government.
3.   The second stage of the ETAF development will include:

  • A grandstand for up to 2,500 spectators
  • Covered training space suitable for game simulation
  • Additional ovals, training areas and community sports fields

4.   Upon the completion of Stage 2, the ETAF will have the potential to host NAB Cup and NEAFL matches.
5.   The club currently has three training venues - the Gabba, Giffin Park at Coorparoo and Yeronga. The move to Springfield Central will ensure the Lions' train at the same venue across the entire year.
6.   The decision to relocate the club's training and administration headquarters from the Gabba to Springfield was ratified by the Lions' board after a thorough and robust process to determine a new site.
7.   The process started more than two years ago when the club called for expressions of interest. The AFL has been a key stakeholder through the duration of the process.
8.   As part of the process, Mr Johnson and fellow director Mick Power did not participate in the final vote to approve the HoA with the Ipswich City Council, in order to remove any concerns about potential conflicts with their business interests in the region.

Click here for virtual tour of Brisbane Lions' facility




BRISBANE, FEBRUARY 2, 2012 - The just completed Brisbane International tennis tournament has won the backing of the Queensland Government, through its Events Queensland arm, for a further four years.

Acting Premier Andrew Fraser confirmed the State Government would help drive the tournament for another four years, saying this year's event had been a resounding success and reinforced its status as a "must-see event on the Queensland sporting calendar".

"The 2012 tournament has been exceeding all expectations with record crowds and some of the world's best tennis talent taking to the courts," Mr Fraser said.

"Only a year ago, the Queensland Tennis Centre (at Tennyson on the Brisbane River) was impacted by the floods and this week the tournament has been back bigger and better than ever - with an upgraded women's tournament and an impressive international men's field.

"Today's confirmation that we will continue this heightened investment for another four years means the tournament can grow even further into the future, delivering for local and visiting tennis fans alike."

Mr Fraser said last year's tournament, which finished just before the flood peak, still generated an economic boost for the city and more than 67,000 spectators attended.

"Events like this help build resilience in the Queensland tourism industry, attract visitors from interstate and overseas and give a boost to the local economy, businesses and jobs," Mr Fraser said.

"The 2012 tournament has achieved daily record crowds this week. For example, Monday's day-night attendance record of 18,478 smashed the previous day-night Brisbane International attendance record of 13,121 set last year.

"Investing in world class events like the Brisbane International is part of our plan to continue building Queensland's bright future.

"That is why the Queensland Government has increased our investment in events by $83million over four years, bringing the total Events Queensland budget to $174million over the same period."

In 2011, the Queensland Government, through Events Queensland, secured an international bid for an upgrade to the Brisbane International to a Women's Tennis Association (WTA) 'Premier Event'.

The upgrade allows unlimited participation by the world's top tennis players and will deliver the biggest prize pool in Australian tennis outside the Australian Open. It means the prize purse will increase from $655,000 in 2012 to $1million in 2013.

"The Brisbane International has come a long way since its beginning in 2009," Brisbane International tournament director Cameron Pearson said.

"In that time we have seen some of the world's best tennis stars grace Pat Rafter Arena: Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams, Andy Murray, Sam Stosur, Andy Roddick, Robin Soderling, Kim Clijsters, Ana Ivanovic and Justine Henin.

"The event has experienced phenomenal growth over its short history and it has gained a reputation with the players as one of the best events on the tennis calendar. A lot of this has been due to the support of Events Queensland."

Events Queensland CEO John O'Sullivan said the investment in marquee sporting events in Brisbane was complemented by a heightened investment in arts and cultural events.

"Events have a proven track record of delivering a strong return on investment, driving visitation and promoting Brisbane as a destination,"  Mr O'Sullivan said.

"The Brisbane International, combined with other events like Matisse: Drawing Life and Mary Poppins promote the city as an events destination during the holiday period. This is great start to the 2012 calendar - a year which promises to deliver a number of significant sporting, arts and cultural, and business events for Brisbane."

The extra investment in the Brisbane International comes in addition to other upcoming events like the Queensland International Performance Series, Portrait of Spain: Masterpieces from the Prado, 34th International Geological Congress, World Theatre Festival, Mummy: Secrets of the Tomb, the Rugby Union Castrol Edge Welsh Tour and in 2013 the Rugby Union Lions Tour.



WHAT may have been missed in much of the sporting coverage  of the second annual rugby union Indigenous Round fixture on Saturday was that it marked the launch of support by mining giant, Rio Tinto, for Queensland Rugby's Future Indigenous Leaders program.

Queensland Rugby and Rio Tinto have designed the Queensland Reds Future Indigenous Leaders Program to create meaningful career pathways and leadership opportunities for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students throughout the state. Significantly, Rio Tinto is investing in the program at a time when the company has been under economic pressure, drawing back on its Australian mining investments and operations.

The Reds second annual Indigenous Round fixture saw the program's inaugural 20 participants present special edition Indigenous art print jerseys to the players.

The program is a new initiative developed to provide the necessary mentoring support and incentives to help Indigenous students from Cherbourg and Woorabinda regions reach their potential and become leaders within their communities.

Rio Tinto Energy general manager for corporate relations said the program was an extension of the ongoing role the company was playing in assisting Indigenous and remote communities.

"Rio Tinto is proud to partner with Queensland Rugby Union in the Future Indigenous Leaders Program which supports and encourages teenagers in Cherbourg and Woorabinda to stay in school, seek employment and/or further training, and to become a leader in their community," Ms Smith said.

"We want to help talented Aboriginal students not only stay at school, but do the best they can."

The program is offered to students in years six to 10, and the early stages focus on developing literacy and numeracy skills before the focus shifts gradually away from the curriculum and towards developing the students' leadership abilities.

Queensland Rugby and Rio Tinto continue to work in partnership with local schools and youth organisations to encourage, support and reward students involved in the program who are demonstrating consistency in attendance, improvement in learning, and excellence in performance both inside and outside of the classroom.

Queensland Rugby CEO Jim Carmichael welcomed the partnership with Rio Tinto and the launch of the Future Indigenous Leaders Program.

"To partner with a global mining sector leader such as Rio Tinto is extremely significant to driving positive outcomes for our code and will create huge benefits for our participants, communities and partners associated with the Queensland Reds Indigenous Program," Mr Carmichael said.

"To continue the growth of Rugby in Queensland it's critical that we are surrounding ourselves with like-minded partners committed to investing in our game, so it's with great pleasure that I welcome Rio Tinto into the Queensland Rugby family."

Queensland Reds captain and Future Indigenous Leaders Program Ambassador James Horwill endorsed the support being offered to young Indigenous Queenslanders as part of the program.

"It's important to never underestimate the impact strong leadership can have on others, whether that is on the rugby field or in your everyday commitments in life," Mr Horwill said.

"But, like any other skill, leadership is something you need to work hard at developing and it's therefore extremely pleasing to see the creation of a program that will provide participants with the necessary knowledge and tools to become leaders within their communities."

The Future Indigenous Leaders program will offer participants further avenues for future employment, education and training, including potential Rio Tinto university scholarships or future roles in that organisation.



Ipswich business loves the Coats Hire Ipswich 300 V8 Supercar race weekend, which starts today (August 19, 2013).

The Ipswich V8 Supercar race at Queensland Raceway, part of the complex that also hosts the famed Winternationals drag racing championships, is a growing economic phenomenon for Ipswich.

It is also a phenomenon for the grass roots appeal it has for both fans and drivers. In fact just a few weeks ago leading V8 Supercar drivers Mark Winterbottom, Jonathon Webb, Tim Slade and Jack Perkins returned to their grass roots to promote the event, getting their eye in for the Coates Hire Ipswich 300 by returning to where it all began - a race day at the Ipswich Kart Club, which is also part of the motor racing complex.

The four 'young guns' of V8 Supercars joined Member for Ipswich West Wayne Wendt and Ipswich Deputy Mayor Victor Attwood for a Kart Challenge against each-other and a celebrity race.

"Karting is where almost all of us began our careers so its great to be able to show other people just how great the sport is, how much fun it is for kids and where they may be able to take a career," Mr Winterbottom said.

Mark Winterbottom, running fifth in the championship, has had mixed success at Queensland Raceway in previous years but his Orrcon Steel FPR Falcon is beginning to fire in 2011 and he is anxious for a second win at the Queensland Raceway track nicknamed the ‘paperclip'.

"We have turned a corner in Townsville a few weeks ago which has been really heartening for the team," Mr Winterbottom said of his second and third at the Sucrogen Townsville 400 when he and team-mate Will Davison impressed.

"Queensland Raceway has been interesting in recent years in that the ‘home' teams have not had so much success compared to the Victorian-based teams. I won their in 2008 and was on pole in 2009 so it's a track that we have done well at."

Mr Wendt said it was great to have the four in Ipswich early ahead of the biggest annual event in the region and an important boost for the economy.

"It's been a very testing time for Ipswich which is still recovering from the devastation from earlier this year so it's great to bring something back to the people," Mr Wendt said.

"This event will give local businesses and the community some faith and a real boost for the next three years, and is integral to the government's major events strategy for the whole state."

Deputy Mayor Attwood said the community was proud of the Coates Hire Ipswich 300 as one of its marquee events annually that the region supported with its feet.

"It's a tremendous community event that the whole region supports and one that helps bring more jobs to the region by injecting much needed funds and national profile," Cr Attwood said. "Millions will see Ipswich in the spotlight on the race weekend which gives great profile to one of the fastest growing regions in the country."

The 2011 Ipswich 300 also features the first South East Queensland appearance of Disney Pixar's CARS Truck Tour 2011, one of the stars on the about to be released Cars2 movie.

The Disney Pixar's CARS Truck Tour 2011 themed installation features a number of entertainment zones and themed activity stations, providing a whole new level of synergy between the CARS universe and the real world.

Adding to the excitement of the Disney appearance at the Ipswich 300 is that kids under 12 are free with a paying adult when they attend the event.

Support categories include the Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series, The QBE Australian Superbikes, Formula Ford and Aussie Racing cars.



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