Sports Business

Construction Skills Qld helps Broncos build careers


CONSTRUCTION Skills Queensland (CSQ) and the Brisbane Broncos have announced a unique partnership which will help junior players at the club find pathways into construction.

The alliance will also showcase careers in the industry to rugby league players and fans across Queensland.

The new partnership will see the construction industry body become the major sponsor of the Broncos Elite Player Development (EPD) squad for the 2015 season. 

Created in 2006, the EPD squad consists of more than 250 young players from across Queensland who have shown strong potential in the sport. The program aims to educate young players on all aspects of rugby league, both on and off the field and to enhance their prospects of playing in the NRL.

Through the Broncos welfare program, young players and their families will be able to learn more from CSQ about construction careers and gain advice on training.

CSQ CEO Brett Schimming said the partnership was a win-win for both organisations.

“CSQ promotes the construction industry as a career of first choice, offering over 70 different career paths across the industry, from carpentry to project management.

“Working with the Broncos provides us with a platform to deliver this message to fit and active rugby league players across the state who are ideally suited to working in construction.

“We believe that gaining experience in construction will not only help these aspiring Broncos in their careers, but also as footballers.

“Undertaking an apprenticeship teaches great habits including team work, autonomy, responsibility and planning, he said.

Brisbane Broncos CEO Paul White said training and education off the field was a top priority for the club.

“The Broncos have an extensive range of welfare programs in place to ensure our players have a career pathway in place for life after football.

“Through this exciting new partnership with CSQ, our junior players will now have access to the best possible advice on beginning an apprenticeship or traineeship.

“Gaining a trade represents a great opportunity for a young footballer as they will develop skills they can use for life,” he said.

Broncos front rower Mitchell Dodds has experienced the benefits of having a trade first-hand. The qualified electrician was on the verge of leaving the NRL at the end of last season before new coach Wayne Bennett invited him to be part of the 2015 squad. 

Knowing he could return to his trade at any time, Mitchell was able to seize the opportunity with confidence.

Young rising stars at the club such as Jai Arrow and Aaron Rockley will have similar peace of mind throughout their careers as they undertake respective plumbing and carpentry apprenticeships.



US lead on sports innovation from Stanford ... to Australia


THE STANFORD Graduate School of Business Sports Innovation Conference, staged at Stanford University, California in April, showcased trends taking shape in the US that Australian sports industry leaders should keep an eye on.

This, just the second annual Stanford Graduate School of Business Sports Innovation Conference, highlighted the diversity of innovation taking place in the US sports industry – and one of Australia’s leaders in sports biometrics, Catapult Sports, was among the leaders. The conference saw how virtual training was coming into its own, how sports organisations were harnessing ‘big data’ and how smart sporting codes were developing new inclusive programs for women and children. 

There were also some revelations about how the issue of sports concussion prevention and treatment was on the cusp of a major breakthrough.

Leaders from all corners of the sports world gathered to share their insights on pushing the boundaries of the industry and the conference produced a range of innovation case studies, a Stanford Graduate School of Business spokesperson said.

“From building winning traditions on the backbone of technology to harnessing the dynamics between fan and franchise, teams must have a thirst for innovation to compete — both on the field and in people’s hearts — in the 21st century.”


The conference heard how ‘virtual training’ has up until now been more fantasy than reality in sport. Attempts to train football players with virtual reality (VR), “has been going on for 20 years,” said Stanford head football coach David Shaw. “All of them have failed; all of them have been terrible.”

Now the team behind STRIVR Labs, a product of Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, may have cracked the code. Its technology could revolutionise how National Football League (NFL) quarterbacks, in particular, can hone their decision-making skills and speed up their reaction times — and without having to drag the full team onto the practice field.

It comes down to what’s known in the field of VR as ‘presence’ – the psychological phenomenon of feeling like you are actually inside the simulation. Such realism is made possible by filming actual players and events on the football field, rather than relying on 3-D modelling or video-game effects.

The result is immersive enough that, for the athletes who have used it, “as far as their brain is concerned, they’re actually running a play,” Mr Shaw said.

Mr Shaw said Kevin Hogan, Stanford’s starting quarterback, had his best three games after he started training with VR at the end of the 2014 season.

“He was always big, fast, strong, and a heck of a quarterback,” Mr Shaw said. “We got him to think a little bit quicker with immersive virtual reality.”

While STRIVR has found that ‘the killer app’ for VR is in training and simulations, Dan Reed, head of global sports partnerships for Facebook, sees limitless potential for VR in entertainment.

Mr Reed said, “99.9 percent of NBA fans globally will never be able to sit courtside. But with VR you can literally transplant people to that experience and sell a billion courtside tickets for every NBA game all season long.”


The conference heard how, over the past decade, it has become increasingly clear that sports teams can no longer expect to just get the best players and win.

As more organisations dedicate resources to the quantitative side of sports, from advanced statistical analysis and predictive modelling to the booming field of tracking performance with biometric devices, the playing field has levelled. “

The new competitive advantage will not come to the teams that are capable of gathering the most data – it will go to the teams that can quickly and efficiently make sense of it all,” the conference heard.

That means big opportunities not only for businesses that can help quantify performance metrics with atomic precision, but also for those that can funnel that data into coherent, useful information.

“We already gather so much data, but we’re not necessarily finding the right story to present to the player or the coach,” said Richard Heal, chief technology officer of Sparta Software Corp.

“We want to get coaches back to coaching. We have too many coaches spending too much time in spreadsheets, collating data.”

Mark Verstegen, founder and president of EXOS, which designs training programs, said even an organisation outfitted with the most cutting-edge technologies will not benefit much if it is not built to act upon the very data it is gathering. Teams need to have a “supply-chain management of human performance” — people in positions to make coordinated efforts to help athletes sleep better, eat better, move better, reduce injury, and improve performance based on what trainers, nutritionists, therapists, and other specialists find in the data.

“That’s where the big gaps are,” Mr Verstegen said.

Brian Kopp, Catapult Sports’ president of North America, estimated that only 5 percent of pro and college athletes are using some sort of biomechanical devices, and even then it is almost entirely in training, as most leagues are only beginning to consider allowing them on the field during games.

“But if you look at the most successful teams in any sport,” he said, “you’ll find the ones that are the most aggressive in their adoption of advanced training and tracking technologies.

Anyone leading an organisation that isn’t doing something in this area will not have a job soon.

“They’ll be replaced by someone who gets it,” Mr Kopp said.

However, questions emerged around the proliferation of biometric technologies.

Getting players, especially older ones, to buy in is one challenge, Mr Kopp said – the key is showing them that, rather than quantifying how their skills might be deteriorating, performance data will help them to extend their career and maximize their earning potential.

“Once you do that, they’re usually very enthusiastic about it,” he said.

Another issue is the question of who owns the data — the player, the team, or the technology manufacturer? Also, what limitations need to be put in place?

“We sometimes forget that athletes are human,” Mr Heal said. Just because teams pay athletes millions of dollars, does that give them the right to know what players are doing in their off time?

“There’s a person living inside that body,” Mr Verstegen said.


Ball sports equipment ‘largest segment’ by 2020


OPPORTUNITIES are emerging in the global sports equipment market for Australian designers and manufacturers – especially in the ball sports segment.

A new report from Persistence Market Research has found the global sports equipment market was valued at US$66,528.8 million in 2013 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3 percent from 2014 to 2020, reaching US$81,821.0 million by 2020.

Ball sports hold the largest share in the sports equipment market, at over 26 percent. This segment is projected to increase from US$17,592.6 million in 2014 to US$21,778.6 million in 2020, at a CAGR of 3.6 percent. 

Persistence Market Research has tracked considerable growth in the global sports equipment market over the last few years, putting that down to increasing participation in sports activities, growing consumer awareness about health and fitness, and the emergence of e-commerce capabilities in the sector.

“However, increasing availability of counterfeit products and rising prices of sports equipment are restraining the growth of this market to some extent,” the report summarised.

The global sports equipment market consists of equipment for ball sports, adventure sports, fitness, golf, winter sports, and others sports, including archery, billiards, bowling, wheel sports, pogo sticks, and indoor games.

“The ball sports equipment segment is expected to be the market’s most lucrative during the forecast period,” the Persistence report said. “This segment is expected to account for approximately 26.6 percent share in the global sports equipment market in 2020.”

Increasing media coverage of various global sports events such as the Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, and FIFA World Cups encourage the youth to take part in various sports, according to the research.

The sports equipment industry is swiftly embracing new technologies and adapting its products in order to keep pace with rapidly changing global trends – and it is in this area that Australian sports equipment manufacturers and marketers see both opportunities and threats.

Another trend Australian companies should note is the recent growing trend of combining casual and athletic designs. Major sports equipment manufacturers merge sports products with leisurewear to meet the demand for fashionable sportswear. 

North America holds the largest market share for sports equipment, followed by Europe and Asia Pacific. Developed markets in the US and European countries currently dominate the sports equipment market.

The US and Canada are the largest markets for sports equipment in North America.

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), in 2010, Europe, Latin America, and North America together accounted for approximately 70 percent of the global adventure sports segment.

Persistence Market Research showed demand for sports equipment in the developing economies of Asia Pacific is expected to show high growth prospects during the forecast period. Japan, China, India, and Australia, with their economic growth, were expected to drive the sports equipment market in this region.

The sports equipment market is segmented on the basis of product (ball sports, adventure sports, fitness equipment, golf equipment, winter sports, and other sports equipment) and region (North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and Rest of the World). Persistence pointed out that the sports equipment market was largely fragmented, but its major players included Amer Sports, Adidas AG, Callaway Golf Company, PUMA SE, Cabela’s Incorporated, Globeride Inc, Mizuno Corporation, Nike Inc, Jarden Corporation, and Yonex Co.


Persistence Market Research is a US-based full-service market intelligence firm specialising in syndicated research, custom research, and consulting services. Persistence has market research expertise across the Healthcare, Chemicals and Materials, Technology and Media, Energy and Mining, Food and Beverages, Semiconductor and Electronics, Consumer Goods, and Shipping and Transportation industries. The company draws from its multi-disciplinary capabilities and high-pedigree team of analysts to share data that precisely corresponds to clients’ business needs.

In terms of revenue, the global market for sports equipment grew from USD 61,778.7 million in 2010 to USD 66,528.8 million in 2013. It is expected to grow to USD 81,821.0 million in 2020 expanding at a CAGR of 3.0%. Ball sports hold the largest share in the sports equipment market. This segment is projected to increase from USD 17,592.6 million in 2014 to USD 21,778.6 million in 2020, at a CAGR of 3.6%. 

Browse the full report with TOC:




Australian Sports Technologies Network and Australian Sports Tech Co. kick off seed capital fund for start-ups

THE Australian Sports Technologies Network (ASTN) and the Australian Sports Tech Company have launched an investment fund to assist start-ups in the sports technologies design and manufacturing sector.

The organisations have called for expressions of interest from early stage sports technology businesses for seed capital. 

Through the alliance, the Australian Sports Tech Company has become a key investor in the Australian sports technologies industry. The Australian Sports Tech Company is an Australian-based investment company with strong existing global links in sports and technology. 

“This is a pivotal point in the development of the Australian sports technologies industry,” ASTN executive director, Craig Hill said.

“The ability to attract an investor with both an interest in Australian sports tech along with a global reach is exactly what our industry needs to support high-potential, scalable start-ups. It also validates the work and direction that the ASTN has been building with its members over the past three years.”

The Australian Sports Tech Company director John O‘Connor said, “We are very excited to be able to back start-ups in the Australian sports tech space. We have a very optimistic view that with a mixture of initial seed funding and our global reach – together with solid mentoring and connection programs – that selected start-ups will be in a sound position for the potential to attract follow on funding from us in the very near future.

“The decision to invest in the industry is well-founded  based on the number  of quality start-ups  with real opportunity to quickly scale to global application.”

Expressions of interest close on May 3 at 5pm.


Infiniti Red Bull Racing F1 team partners with Chinese electronics manufacturer Hisense

HISENSE, the Chinese electronics manufacturer escalating its global reach, has announced a multi-year partnership with Formula One’s Infiniti Red Bull Racing team.

The announcement was made at the Shanghai International Circuit ahead of the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix and complements Hisense’s sponsorship programs in the USA with NASCAR, The Australian Open tennis tournament and Schalke 04 football team in Germany. 

Infiniti Red Bull Racing said as part of the agreement, Hisense's logo would feature on the nose of the RB11, on the team's pit wall and driver monitors, as well as on all team partner listing areas.

“Infiniti Red Bull Racing is one of the most successful and most talked about teams in a sport renowned for technology, teamwork and competitiveness,” Hisense Company Ltd executive vice president  Lan Lin said.

“Like Infiniti Red Bull Racing, we are a proud challenger brand and we continually innovate our best-in-class consumer products to stay ahead of the others.  We look forward to sharing these with the team to help them throughout the season,” Dr Lin said.

Infiniti Red Bull Racing Team principal, Christian Horner said, “Everyone associated with Infiniti Red Bull Racing is delighted to welcome Hisense to our team. Their approach to innovation and technological development is impressive and we look forward to our partnership developing as the season unfolds.”

Hisense is reportedly the top television manufacturer in China , a position it has maintained for 11 consecutive years. Through this new partnership Hisense announced it was looking to become the third most popular global TV brand, one place higher than last year.

In 2017, Hisense aims to reach a total revenue of US$7.5 billion internationally and the F1 partnership includes Hisense’s cutting edge range of consumer electronics products will be supplied to the team both at track and in the factory.


Budget 24-hour gyms thriving - IBISWorld reports

EXTRA >> THE key growth segment in Australia’s gymnasium industry at the moment is the 24-hour operation – but traditional gyms are fighting back.

Overall, according to research from IBISWorld, the gym and fitness centres industry continues to grow at a rate of 3.3 percent a year and is currently worth about $1.3 billion. 

The 24 hour gyms – which do not typically provide classes to members, but offer all-hours access, lower prices and flexible membership plans – are a key growth segment as identified by IBISWorld.

The most popular establishments in the sector include Anytime Australia, Jetts Fitness and Snap Fitness. Full-service gyms are beginning to fight back against this fierce competition by reducing prices, offering more flexible contracts and providing special services.

The concept of 24-hour gyms is not new, but consumer preference for the price and convenience of these establishments has grown rapidly. Two 24-hour gym chains, Anytime Fitness and Jetts Fitness, have aggressively expanded their networks, and now have about 600 locations between them.

These types of gyms require less space than full-service gyms, as they do not offer classes, which means reduced rental costs and a greater number of suitable locations. Low wage costs, due to the facilities being unstaffed for some hours during the day, allow these gyms to reduce their prices even further.

Strong growth in the number of 24-hour gyms has come at the expense of full-service gyms, causing the revenue and market share of major player Fitness First Australia to decline over the past five years.

In response to this fierce competition, some full-service gyms have begun to engage in price wars with 24-hour gyms. Many full-service gyms now provide a range of contract options, with different durations and prices.

These gyms still depend on high volumes of customers to remain viable, as they cannot compete with 24-hour gyms in terms of rent and wage costs.

Full-service gyms are also employing other strategies to lure consumers back, like providing women-only training areas. While this strategy is not expected to affect 24-hour gyms, it may take market share away from women-only gyms like Fernwood Women’s Health Clubs and Curves.

The IBISWorld report suggested as competition between full-service and 24-hour gyms intensifies, an overall rise in the number of members will be offset by declining prices.

Looking towards 2015-2020, this is expected to lead to an annualised fall in industry revenue of 0.5 percent.

“In a highly saturated market with limited room to expand further, the continuing trend of consumers switching over to 24-hour budget gyms, or taking advantage of cheaper memberships due to the price war, will lead to a revenue contraction in the gyms and fitness centres industry,” an IBISWorld spokesman said.

Current market share: 2014


Relevant industries include: Gyms and Fitness Centres, Women’s Gyms

3D printing, modelling to Disrupt Surfing

EXTRA >> TWO University of Sydney Business School MBA students, Gary Elphick and Jason Rogers, have taken the surf sports market by storm with an innovative new business concept which allows customers to affordably customise their surfboards.

Disrupt Surfing is one of a growing number of enterprises dispensing with the traditional business model of designing products in a studio, manufacturing them in a factory and displaying in a store. 

Instead, Disrupt offers an online service allowing customers to design products according to their desired size, shape and colour. Using the latest technology, Disrupt Surfing creates three-dimensional (3D) renders of the customer’s desired board which are then used in the manufacturing process.

“3D printing, modelling and manufacturing are going to revolutionise the way the world thinks of their sports gear, you should never have to settle for anything less than exactly what you want,” said Disrupt Surfing co-founder, Gary Elphick.

The company has been in operation for only eight months and is already cash flow positive, selling more than 1000 products to happy customers from as far as the US, Kenya and Japan.

A large part of the success has come down to an astute and engaging website that not only provides an easy path to design and manufacture, it also has a high-touch approach including online live help on a personal basis, often linking with the owners of the business themselves.

So successful is the start-up venture that Mr Elphick and Mr Rogers are now extending their customisation to other sports lines such as kite surfing, snowboarding and stand-up paddle boards.

“The level of customisation we are able to provide is almost limitless,” said Mr Rogers said. “You can visualise a customer’s character through how they personalise their sports gear – a shark proof surf board, a leopard skin print snowboard or a bumblebee stand-up paddle board, it says a lot about a person.

“Our sports gear is made in the same location, using the same materials and engineering as many big surf brands. We only sell online and ship direct. We offer 100 percent customised boards at 50 percent of the cost,” he said.

Mr Elphick and Mr Rogers attribute much of the success of their start-up to the practical nature of their MBA course.

They said learning from experienced business professionals about leading teams, managing a business, and seizing opportunities has helped them avoid the pitfalls a lot of start-ups face. The course also encouraged the duo to be progressive leaders.

“People are either going to love us or hate us, it’s a very polarising concept especially for traditionalists and traditional retailers,” Mr Elphick said. “You can expect to see a lot of commentary.”



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