Conference aims to foster high-performance sport
  • Thursday 16 February 2017

World champion athletes and leading sports administrators, coaches and scientists will join forces on Friday 3 March for a conference aimed at boosting high-performance sport opportunities on the Sunshine Coast.

The SportsCoast Conference has been organised by USC and the Sunshine Coast Council and will feature discussions and insights into the region’s emergence as a hub for high-level sports competition and training.

The event at USC’s Innovation Centre auditorium is open to the public and will be moderated by sports broadcaster Drew Morphett. Presenters will include Sunshine Coast Lightning coach Noeline Taurua, AFL Queensland Multicultural Engagement Manager Darren Allie and Australian Sailing CEO Matthew Carroll.

A range of current and former elite athletes including triathlete Annelise Jeffries, three-time Olympic rowing medallist Bo Hanson, and kayaking world champion Dr Gayle Mayes will also feature in panel discussions throughout the day.

USC’s Director of High Performance Sport Professor Brendan Burkett, who will be among several USC academics speaking at the event, said turning the Coast into a top destination for elite athletes and competitions was all about collaboration.

“This conference is the perfect way for anyone with an interest in this area to help discuss the economic and social benefits that high-performance sport can bring,” he said.

“We’ve already seen a large number of successful athletes coming out of our region, including the 12 USC athletes who competed at the Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2016, and the arrival of Sunshine Coast Lightning has given the Coast its first national sporting team.”

Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson said Tourism, Sport and Leisure is one of the Region’s seven high value industries and a key employer and generator of economic activity on the Sunshine Coast.

“The Sunshine Coast is a natural sporting amphitheatre that’s home to a large and diverse range of high profile local, national and international events,” Mayor Jamieson said.

“We’re also a destination of choice for national and international sporting teams to come and use our high quality facilities, including the University of the Sunshine Coast which is the only University in Australia to be accredited by the Australian Institute of Sport. 

“In 2016 our region played host to an unprecedented 60 major sporting and lifestyle events that brought more than 150,000 participants and supporters here from more than 40 countries.

“This year we welcome our first national sporting side in the Sunshine Coast Lightning netball team and in 2018 we’ll play host to hundreds of athletes from the Wales, Scotland, Isle of Man and Niue Commonwealth Games teams who’ve chosen to come here in the lead up to the 2018 Games on the Gold Coast.

“We’re a regular host venue for NRL trial matches, a destination of choice for elite AFL teams and the Wallabies Rugby side to base themselves for training camps and we’ve also secured a partnership with Cricket Australia that will see us host elite level senior and junior matches as well as investing in facility upgrades at our major cricket venues.

“So it’s terrific to be hosting the SportsCoast Conference and to further showcase the Sunshine Coast as the major sport events capital of regional Australia.”  

Mayor Jamieson and USC Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Hill will officially open the conference ahead of the first panel discussion on elite athlete support and services.

The afternoon session will focus on the business side of sport, with a panel on major event logistics, business opportunities and creating partnerships.

The conference will begin with registration at 8.15am and conclude with networking drinks at 4.15pm. For more information visit