Saturday, April 4, 2009

Show Me the Money

Not too long ago I found a submission by GA to the Independent Sport Panel outlining issues facing the the Australian gymnastics program (notably funding and publicity) and potential solutions. Little did I know that submissions by actual members of our squad (primarily our Olympic representatives from Waverley), and their parents, had also been forwarded to the panel before and after Beijing.

Thanks to Nade for the heads-up on these.

They make for insightful, but also rather sad, reading. For a long time we've wanted to hear the opinions of the gymnasts and gym parents themselves, but to finally get them is like asking someone how their day was, then sitting down, taking their hand and saying, "No, REALLY how was your day?" and getting the woeful response.

The primary issues at stake are those of funding, and Waverley's limited use of VWHPC facilities, as well as the fact that the girls didn't have their personal coach on the floor with them in Beijing.

Read Georgia's take here.

Australia's media coverage of international gymnastics has been appalling... In the US, college gymnastics fills stadiums and provides universities with the revenue to offer full scholarships to many athletes. I have been offered two positions already with US colleges, providing me with 4 years tuition, accommodation and living allowance. This kind of revenue could not be achieved without media support. Australia could really benefit if some effort was directed towards media coverage.

Read Mama and Papa Shona's take here.

Our girls train 32 plus hours a week and also attend school. They have no time to earn money in a part time job. This severely restricts their lifestyle; particularly when they reach 18 (and older) when they need money for living expenses - running a car etc. This lack of financial support is a major factor contributing to the excessively high drop out rate at this point. It seems a waste that all of the valuable years of training are not continued.

Read Mama and Papa Emma's take here.

Funding needs to be directed into helping and supporting the gymnast, coaches and clubs that are achieving results, not as it currently does, where the funding is used primarily to run the state institutes based gymnastics, paying for rent, coaching, equipment and administration.

Good on you, gym families. Fight the good fight. It's high time we heard from you as well as the staff and fans connected to training centres.


Anonymous said...

This is a classic:

'We feel the selection process for coaches for major events such as World Championships and Olympics should be very clearly defined and not subject to the whim of the Head Coach or others in authority with a vested interest in promoting their own programs at the expense of the selected athletes.'

It is indeed a problem if GA has to promote the institutes and their athletes to get funding. That creates such an unfair situation for club athletes. The bottom line is that people should be happy to be part of the system working together and knowing they will be treated fairly but clearly they are not.

Anonymous said...

I never did understand the whole Mischa over John thing. at the time people said it was because he was the head of an Institue and thus more experienced, but when you have the coach of 1/6 of the team there instead of 1/3 of the team it makes little sense. Plus wasn't Emma the original alternate. So it was more like 3/7 the same ratio as the WAIS. Maybe this was payback for Shona not going to Pac Rim without John, which would be really petty.

Maybe Shona would've thrown the DTY if John had been in Beijing. i'm not sure what esle she watered down because I think I only got to see her UB, which looked the same.

i love how they're being pressured to continue on even though they're not receiving any benefits. I remember last year peggy said something about all the team promising to continue after Beijing. For some reason i could see her holding a contract forcing them to sign over the next 4 years haha. Some really sad points about how many of the girls quit when they had just reached their prime. Ah the what ifs?

Anonymous said...

Good on anyone who fights for more money and recognition for the sport and i think it's great the Waverley girls did so well but lets not forget that there are other institutes and clubs, like MLC, that have had consistantly produced gymnasts every year in nearly every Australian team. the VHPC has had a representative on every olympic team since it began and in 2004 had 3 representatives and in 2000, i believe, 4 representatives. No individual girls at HPC's get any more funding and parents still pay fees. WAIS also had 3 representatives on the Olympic Team. HPC's still struggle for money and don't have the membership numbers with which to to do do fundraisers and also have to adhere to strict fundraising - they can't do chocolate drives and won't have fast food sponsors.
Money is not enough for all in the sport not just those from clubs.

Anonymous said...

So depressing but an expected read from the families perspectives.

On the bright note, I would LOVE to see Georgia go compete in NCAA....this is further brick-bats to the goss I've been hearing about how interested the US college gym coaches are in our athletes.

Anonymous said...

Georgia (and all the Oz girls) would kick ass in NCAA and I think really enjoy the experience. It would certainly be way better for them academically AND otherwise to go to university abroad. I hope that Georgia takes up one of her offers.

I'd kill to know which schools are scouting her too!


Anonymous said...

I found another submission from Waverley's Director, Tanya Johansen. Rumour has it that in a letter to the Board, Waverley are seeking an explanation as to why Emma D was dropped from the AIS/Olympic squad. Soon after the squad was announced, the Australian Sports Commission announced a grant to help with training expenses for athletes with potential to medal at Comm games. The recipient gymnasts were Darsha($12k), Lauren ($12k) Shona($10k), Georgia($10k), Amber ($8k), Britt($8k) and Emily L($8k). Emma was unable to apply as she was not on the squad. Any relationship to her Olympic appeal?

Anonymous said...

GA's bullshit is just so annoying. Emma has a lot to offer the team and one day soon she will simply say 'Screw This!' and walk out. They can't expect the girls to want to continue if they are treated like crap.

Was she looking out of shape at camp maybe?

Anonymous said...

It just occurred to me how insanely happy I will be if Dasha can be CWG champ next year. It never occurred to me before. In a way it would be justice for her bad luck - 5th at worlds 2006, problems at 07 worlds AA, no Olympics AA.

Anonymous said...

I saw maybe a year ago a pic with Georgia wearing an UCLA gymnastics Sweat-shirt... who knows... I hope she will choose ncaa way.
She just finished high school right?

gymmum said...

As the parent of a young HP gymnast it is very sobering to read these submissions. Why are there no rewards for our sport in terms of financial support and publicity? Swimming Australia has made a deal with the new network One for it to televise their major meets. Why can't GA do something like this as well? Women's netball is on One. Is this because of demand or is the station testing the waters to see how popular women's sports is? They're broadcasting 24/7 surely we could squeeze some gym in there?

nade00 said...

I think they will need to be winning world and olympic medals consistently before any tv station shows interest. The swimmers get atttention becasue they have athletes coming home with multiple gold medals at the Olympics.

Mez said...

I was under the impression Georgia got the jumper while she was competing at the Golden State Classic (perhaps a friendly inter-country swap for an AIS shirt?)

Anonymous said...

Ah but UCLA would be a lovely fit for Georgia. She has a very classic style, a style that Miss Val appears to really love. :)

The top NCAA coaches are definitely aware of our gymnasts but one of the biggest complications is getting the clearinghouse approval (grades, course comparisons etc).

mistysakura said...

"As a result of this non selection [of her coach] we understand that our daughter had to take skills out of her routines which then affected her start scores and, therefore, her ability to strengthen the overall Australian team score."

Am I the only one who finds this weird? I don't see how her coach not being there affected her ability to perform a skill in competition -- if her ability WAS affected, surely she wasn't ready to do the skill in the first place?

Anonymous said...

the coach could give her confidence. just seeing him there would have been a confidence-booster. i am a coach and one of the kids i coach just doesn't pull out her best for other coaches but when i am around she pulls it out.
i doubt whether he would have been allowed in with the team at training venues in beijing as well.

Anonymous said...

Look at Carly Patterson for example when she didn't have Evgeny with her at a comp.

Some kids just thrive under the guidance of their own person coaches at comps.

Mez said...

Given that Georgia stated in her submission that she (and the other Waverley girls) don't have as much access to VWHPC facilities (and, I assume, coaches as well) as they would like to, clearly they weren't as confident as they COULD have been knowing their own coach was there. The Wavies were working with someone who most likely approached routines and techniques differently to the Waverley mindset. Understandably they worked with Mischa at camp, but that's just six weeks, innit? That's not years of familiarity and development.

(Not to sniff at their fantastic work at the Games, of course. They were the strongest performers on the team and to do that without their coach is awesome).

Shona might have cranked out a Baitova with John there by the vault, who knows????