|Robin Fildes OAM- President & Chairman, Athletics Australia|
|Profile of the week|
Monday, 13 August 2012 15:00
Robin ‘Rob’ Fildes is the President and Chairman of Athletics Australia.
Rob has a wealth of sport business experience, including an extensive spell as Trustee of Melbourne Olympic Parks Trust (1995-2001), Chairman of Australian Masters Games (1995) and Director of AFL Publications Board (1982-95). In 1998, he received an OAM for his contribution to sports.
His history in athletics dates back over 30 years to his days as a club athlete at Sandringham. In 1964-71, Rob was an international standard decathlon champion, ranked in the world’s top 15 and considered the “best all round athlete in the country”.
Prior to his long and successful career in athletics, Rob played for Collingwood Football Club from 1961-63.
High performance, leadership, coaching, financial stability and junior program are the five key themes that form the backbone of Athletic Australia’s Strategic Plan for 2009-2012. Have you been able to accomplish what you had set out to do?
Yes, it is coming along well. In terms of financial stability, we were running at a loss when I took over as President and now we have financial stability. Like anybody and anything, it is very important to spend what you earn and not any more. We run on a very small surplus and we have a good idea each year of how much money we are going to be receiving and accordingly, on behalf our sport, we spend on high performance, junior development and all the general areas where of where we think we can improve our sport.
We, like many countries, do need more funding to be able to all the things we want and need to do to keep abreast with the rest of the world because when you come to the Olympics you realise how much the focus and emphasis from certain countries has helped them to improve enormously. There is no better example than Great Britain, which has had massive funding. It is alright to have massive funding, but then you have got to manage it and make sure that you get outcomes that are positive. There is a lot of competition and from an Australian perspective, we have got to go back to our government and work out how much extra they can afford to support us.
Last year, a joint venture agreement between Athletics Australia and Little Athletics Australia was signed. Have you been satisfied with the progress made so far?
In September, we are going into the same building in Melbourne and that is a huge first for our sport. What we have been trying to achieve with Little Athletics is the transition from 12-14years olds through to our new juniors’ championships, which gives us the opportunity to create very strong world youth and junior teams. The cooperation is extremely important and our government is very much in favour of us all working together.
We are also doing a joint venture program with Little Athletics around the kids athletics programme from the IAAF, which is just about teaching children about balance and understanding their bodies better.
Channel 9 is the official broadcaster for the London Olympics, as well as the Australian Tour meets. How important is the partnership for developing the commercial viability of Athletics Australia?
Our partnership with television is very important. Eddie McGuire, who is hosting Channel 9 and Foxtel in London, is President for the football club I played for, Collingwood, and he is also on the board of Athletics Australia. He is a very valuable member.
Television exposure of any sport is vital and nothing helps that more than having champions. Fortunately, we have a world champion and now an Olympic champion in Sally Pearson. She loves to compete and is a tremendous supporter of our season. A lot of the athletes do not necessarily want to compete, but she can not wait to get out there and do our best. She will be fantastic for our sport and exposure through television through the next few years. She’s a marvellous role model for young Australian women and athletes.