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Launch of the AIS Men's Soccer Program.



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Speech by Senator Rod Kemp - Minister for the Arts and Sport

Launch of the AIS Men's Soccer Program Wednesday 23 October 2002

(Check against delivery)

Thank you Matt.

Michael Scott, Director, AIS, Frank Farina, Australian National Coach, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

And to our AIS scholarship holders - let me just say that I hope you all go on to wear the green and gold one day.

Australia is a great sporting nation.

And the Government is committed to sports on many levels-from the grass roots right through to our elite athletes.

It is no surprise that the Government is particularly proud of the Australian Institute of Sport-celebrating its 21st birthday this year.

With 700 athletes in 35 programs across 26 sports, trained by 75 coaches, the Institute is the world's best elite training facility for sportsmen and women.

In little over two decades it has won the affection and esteem of all Australians-and the envy of the rest of the world.

The AIS Soccer program was established in 1981.

The program has been highly successful in identifying and developing outstanding young talent for the National Under 20 Youth Team with possible progression to the Olympic and senior Socceroo squads.

The program also develops coaches through the National Coaching Scheme.

And the AIS has produced some of the big names in the sport.

Former AIS scholarship holders include Frank Farina, the National Coach who will talk to you in a moment, and players Mark Viduka, and Brett Emerton.

Soccer is growing in popularity in this country.

Last season there were more than 353,000 registered players taking to the fields each weekend. Almost a quarter of a million of them were juniors.

About 150 players have risen through the club ranks to go on to international playing careers.

With this level of popularity, Australia should be a hugely successful soccer nation.

We are not yet-but I believe we will be.

 

As you know, last month Soccer Australia agreed that the Commission would supervise a thorough review of soccer's governance and management, under the chairmanship of David Crawford.

The Review will examine the structure of soccer in other countries and seek advice from international experts.

It will draw on best practice examples of sports governance and management from other Australian sports.

By improving the governance of soccer in Australia, we will have all the ingredients right-allowing us to build on the enthusiasm and talent we have for the sport.

The Government strongly supports soccer.

In 2002-03, the Australian Sports Commission will provide a total of $2,350,000 to the game.

Of this funding, $661,734 is allocated to the AIS Men's Soccer program.

These funds provide program infrastructure including coaching, administration, equipment, sports science and medical support, as well as opportunities to compete at an international level.

Our National Youth League players have toured around the world, including to Holland, Canada, the United States, South America, Hong Kong, China, Malaysia, Britain and Italy.

Competing with the best in the world gives our young soccer athletes the best possible chance of success at the national and international level.

Which is why it gives me great pleasure to officially launch the AIS Men's Soccer program for 2002-03.

I am sure this will be a great year, and I wish you every success in this year's National Youth League.

Thank you.