Changing field for high performing women coaches under AIS program

By Jackson Graham

February 1, 2022

Richard Colbeck, sport minister
Sports minister Richard Colbeck. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

A federal program is reshuffling the deck for women in high-performance coaching and sport executive roles, as the government aims to support and retain more women leaders in the industry. 

Dozens of women looking to inspire change and drive Australia’s next generation of elite athletes are being called on to further their skills over the eight-month “talent program”.  

Katrina Powell, a two-time Olympic hockey gold medallist, credits the program with being a “turning point” in her coaching career. 

“It shifted my mindset,” Powell, part of the inaugural program in 2020, said. “I went from hoping or believing I could one day be national coach to knowing I could do the job.” 

Powell described the program as instrumental in her transition from head coach at the NSW Institute of Sport hockey program to being named as Hockeyroos coach through to the 2024 Paris Olympics. 

“Doing the AIS talent program, along with a peer group of coaches from other sports that I’m still in touch with today, helped me solidify my goals and then plan how I’d get there,” Powell said. 

The government’s Office for Women and Sport Australia is also behind the $3.4 million program, which the AIS is delivering over four years. 

AIS acting chief Matti Clements wants to see women in sport executive and high-performance coaching roles apply.

“We need to continue breaking down gender barriers in sport, and this program makes a genuine difference, providing participants with the opportunity to build leadership presence, professional networks and peer support.”

Federal sports minister Richard Colbeck said the government was targeting the under-representation of women in high-performance coaching and executive roles. 

“We are investing in sporting infrastructure and international events to inspire participation, like the FIBA Women’s World Cup of Basketball and the FIFA Women’s World Cup of Football over the next two years,” he added. 

More information about the program is available online.


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