Crawford report snubs university sport

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Graham Croker

The Federal Government commissioned Crawford Report on the funding of Australian sport has virtually shunned university sport, a leading university sports administrator has claimed.
Bruce Ross, the President of Sydney University Sport and Fitness, said just three paragraphs in the 357-page report were devoted to university sport despite 100,000 students competing in university sports on Australian campuses.
“As the Crawford Report is supposedly the blueprint for our future, I was keen to turn to the section on university sport,” Mr Ross told an audience at Sydney University’s annual Blues dinner in the Great Hall on Saturday night.
“To say I was disappointed that just three bland paragraphs were devoted to university sport would be an understatement.
“Not one dollar of government money is allocated to assist the infrastructure and sporting and fitness programs at this university, and since the introduction of voluntary student unionism, sporting organisations such as Sydney University Sport and Fitness have had to rely on university funding, sponsors and volunteers.
“We’ve been extremely fortunate at Sydney University to have an administration that supports sport and fitness programs.”
Mr Ross said Sydney University, in particular, had world-class programs in a number of sports. He cited the Football Club which presently has 30 players at Super 14 rugby union franchises and academies, all of whom have come through the club’s Colts program.
He also cited the rowing program at the university. “We have dominated at State, National and Australian University Games regattas and provided 11 of the 30 Senior A representatives at the World Championships in Poland this year,” Mr Ross said.
“Our clubs are open and many of them such as water polo, swimming, women’s soccer, rugby union provide teams and compete down to Under 12 level.”
Mr Ross said the first paragraph in the Crawford Report devoted to university sport says: “The drop-out rate in sport usually occurs in late teens and early adulthood as young Australians are placed under increasing pressure to continue their learning.”
“We’re already countering that claim with our programs and sporting scholarships scheme,” he said.
“The second paragraph acknowledges that 100,000 students compete in university sports and that ‘competitions such as the University Games are seen as a way of continuing interest in sport’. The report says they would ‘encourage consideration of an intercollegiate type program for sport similar to that which operates in the US’ but says there are expensive and enormous logistical issues.
Mr Ross pointed out the very different distribution of population in this country compared to America made such a program totally unfeasible.
“The third paragraph says ‘university sporting facilities are another mostly untapped sporting resource for local sporting communities’.
“At Sydney University our facilities and clubs are open to the public, and we compete in a wide range of sporting competitions at local, district, state and national levels.
“We could have certainly utilised some of the millions of dollars that have been spent preparing this report which does nothing to address university sport.
“We’ve been left out of the loop. We’re being driven back to our own resources. If the government won’t help, we’ll keep performing as we do.”
Meanwhile, World Cup and Olympic rower Sally Kehoe and Wallaby second-rower Dean Mumm were named Female and Male Blues of the Year for 2009 at the annual awards dinner.
Kehoe, a Bachelor of Commerce/Arts student, had a wonderful season on the water after competing in the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
She collected a big haul of gold medals at the Sydney Rowing Club regatta, the NSW Championships, the National Championships and Australian University Games Championships.
Kehoe also represented Australia at the 2009 World Rowing Championships at Poznan, Poland, where she teamed with Philippa Savage to finish 4th behind Poland, Great Britain and Bulgaria in the A final of the double sculls. She was also stroke of the victorious Sydney University Women’s Eight which recently defeated New Zealand in the Gallagher Great Race.
Mumm, a Graduate Certificate in Commerce student, started in all 13 matches played by the NSW Waratahs in the 2009 Super 14 rugby union competition, playing second-row on 11 occasions and twice on the blindside flank.
He earned selection in the Wallabies squad for the Tri Nations competition against South Africa and New Zealand and Bledisloe Cup matches against New Zealand and is presently on the Grand Slam tour of Great Britain and Ireland. He captained the Wallabies in their mid-week match against Gloucester.
Mumm was also a member of the Sydney University First XV which defeated Randwick in the grand final of the Shute Shield, giving the Students their fifth consecutive title in the Sydney grade competition.
Kehoe and Mum were among 33 athletes awarded Blues for 2009 and six volunteer supporters awarded University Golds.
The Blues included: Adrian Amato (volleyball), Kathryn Andrews (soccer), Alexander Belonogoff (boat), Alicia Brightwell (water polo), Charles Budd (boat), Stuart Clark (cricket), Simone Conacher (basketball), Sarah Cook (rowing), Andrew D’Ambrosio (swimming), Yaegan Doran (volleyball), Graeme Down (Australian football), Kylie Duff (rowing), Edward Fernon (modern pentathlon), William Forsythe (canoe/kayak), Emma Gray (swimming), William Hay (cricket), Tara Holt (athletics), Gemma Johnson, (swimming), Rosalyn Lawrence (canoe/kayak), Sam McConnell (swimming), Jacob Michael (canoe/kayak), James Nipperess (athletics), Martin Pascal (cricket), Nicholas Purnell (boat), Ishan Savran (soccer), Kiera Shiels (basketball), Sam Shore (soccer), Murray Stewart (canoe/kayak), Nathan Trist (rugby union), Edward White (boat), Erin Wilson (soccer) and Sisi Shang (table tennis).
Golds were presented to Ian Foulsham (cricket), Leanne McKee (water polo), David Mortimer (football – rugby union), Rachel Pirie (women’s rugby), Josephine Sukkar (football – rugby union) and Leonid Zaslavsky (wrestling).
The awards were presented by Professor Jill Trewhella, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research.
The Toast to the University was made by Mr Ross, while the Toast to the Blues was made by Allison Shreeve, a 2002 sailing Blue.
St John’s College choir entertained with renditions of The Varsity and Gaudeamus, and Rodney Tubbs interviewed the Sydney University athletes and Blues Keesja Gofers (water polo), Lara Tamsett (athletics) and Matt Jaukovic (swimming) about their careers.