Local sports fans know there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes to which they aren’t always privy. Like who washes players’ tops, or organises the team insurance, or even arranges for a ground at which to train and play?
It takes a lot of resources and support to keep a team going, which has led to Melbourne University Sport (MUS) creating the Sport Foundation to assist clubs under the organisation’s umbrella. According to MUS Director Tim Lee, the Foundation will go some way to ensuring sport remains an integral part of the University’s future.
“As the number one ranked Australian university, Melbourne aims to set the tertiary standard for sporting performance, participation and facilities. Under the University’s ‘Strategic Plan for Sport’, the newly endowed Sport Foundation will help underpin initiatives for the sustainable development of sporting clubs and high-level athletes, fitness and wellness programs, and state-of-the-art facilities,” Mr Lee says.
“All Sport Foundation income will focus on development of comprehensive, high-level sporting, instructional, recreational and club opportunities for generations of students and the wider University sporting community.”
The foundation will enable MUS to broaden its support across the board, helping with everything from equipment purchases, coaching needs, and fitness and wellness expenditures to enhance the professionalism and performance of clubs. It will also provide for expanded sport scholarships to support academic and career mentoring, as well as training and coaching to ensure the University and its sporting clubs attract and sustain the best student athletes.
The list of athletes and coaches who have benefited from Melbourne University Sport support in recent years is attention-grabbing: Olympic silver medalist rowers James Marburg and Cameron McKenzie-McHarg (Beijing 2008) and Winter Olympian Katya Crema (Vancouver 2010) have received sports scholarships, while former New Zealand Olympic and World Championship rower Ian Wright coached the Melbourne University Boat Club, thanks to support from MU Sport. And that doesn’t even take into consideration the capital works projects underway, such as the new University fitness centre south of Grattan Street, and the new Sports Pavilion for the cricket and football clubs.
“Our mission is to support a healthy lifestyle and University sporting activities,” says Tim Lee. “The ‘Strategic Plan’ creates a bold vision of funding for current development and long-term planning to achieve the University’s goal of having the nation’s leading university sport program. This funding for the future is beyond the current capacity of the University and clubs to singularly achieve, and that’s where the foundation steps in.
“It provides a platform to build and further strengthen Sport’s relationships with new and continuing supporters among alumni, staff and corporations. All Sport Foundation contributions will be acknowledged as part of the University of Melbourne’s Sport legacy now, and for future generations. Beyond this, it provides an opportunity for us to offer an open invitation to join our inaugural Sport Alumni Group.”
The Melbourne University Hockey Club is the first club to sign on to the Foundation, providing an inaugural gift of $50,000 towards upgrades on the current hockey pitch, while the historic cricket, football and boating clubs are perhaps next in line.
Tim Lee says it’s a proud moment for the club, and the University sporting community. “The Hockey Club has shown true leadership among the traditional University clubs by becoming the first to embrace the Sport Foundation’s aspiration to provide long-term benefit to their members and enhance activities. The Club’s inaugural gift seeds the endowment and, in return, they will immediately benefit from enhanced administrative and financial support from Melbourne University Sport.”