Sports House focus for 2013

LOOKING AHEAD: Ipswich Sports House executive officer Troy McGrath has a range of regional initiatives for his team to pursue next year.
LOOKING AHEAD: Ipswich Sports House executive officer Troy McGrath has a range of regional initiatives for his team to pursue next year. Claudia Baxter

IPSWICH Sports House executive officer Troy McGrath has given his team a timely boost for next year, encouraged by their work helping the regional sports community.

"We give ourselves a pass to good," he said nearing the end of the Sports House's "first cycle".

McGrath and his team of 10 officers have been working with more than 120 clubs and organisations since the Sports House opened this year.

As the innovative project prepares to enter its "second cycle", McGrath said the Sports House had no real setbacks with ongoing support from Ipswich City Council and the State Government.

"The biggest lesson has been the education space, really trying to make sure that we're providing the information in the right formats," McGrath said.

"Getting more online, more one-on-one type training and mentoring opportunities for our people that are working at the volunteer level in particular, so they can get what they need when they want to do it.

"The biggest challenge is trying to make sure that as we grow new things and help industries get bigger, there's capability to deliver, and across the city we've got places for them to play."

However, the former tennis administrator, UQ Sport development manager and Channel 10 marketer was pleased with the first full year of operation.

"Across the board, we've had some really good successes and made some good progress," McGrath said.

"We identified a lot of our clients' issues and needs and now started to come out with solutions to help them move forward and be more sustainable and viable."

He rated the success of the Tennis Ipswich and Football Ipswich bodies as examples of what can be achieved when groups work together.

Tennis Ipswich is building a stronger competition with more focus on juniors and initiatives to bolster the sport.

Major regional clubs joined forces at Football Ipswich to form a Western Pride franchise fielding elite junior and senior teams in next year's Australian Premier League state competition.

McGrath said other sports like swimming and rugby league were following the lead of tennis and football in getting different clubs working "towards a one-banner type model".

Cycling is also moving in the right direction with a number of groups united in their search for a multi-use venue.

McGrath said other 2012 highlights included the revamped Ipswich Sports Awards gala function being sold out (290 people) and a successful Future of Sport conference held on the same day to help clubs.

Partnerships with The Queensland Times, Queenslanders Credit Union, Illustrious Type and Design, Coca Cola and Llewellyn Motors gave the Sports House a strong network of corporate support.

McGrath said 2013 would provide a range of opportunities for sporting clubs and groups to join new partnerships.

"They don't have to travel as much, they can access to the same quality of professional services, information, professional development, et cetera within their own city," he said.

"We're trying to get more people, more active, more often - that becomes the critical catchcry."

Future Plans

Ipswich Sports House initiatives for next year include:

  • More online information sharing and training resources;
  • Shorter conference programs to help clubs in specialised areas;
  • Improved participation projects and kids holiday clinics;
  • Helping regional clubs benefit from next year's Festival of Tennis program;
  • More social sporting activities like flag football and AFL Nines;
  • Working more with schools and linking recruitment programs with clubs;
  • And sharing the Sports House office in South Street with other sporting and community organisations like the Australian Sports Commission and Active After-Schools Community staff.

"That's really exciting because the whole Sports House name is about the incubation of sharing, learning under one roof," Ipswich Sports House executive officer Troy McGrath said. "The more people trying to create opportunities for people to play, recreate and get involved with sport - who work together - the more successful we'll be.

"By the end of next year, we should have all those things bedded down and have a much healthier network."

Topics:  football ipswich ipswich city council ipswich sports house tennis ipswich

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