Sports Business

Sports Advanced Manufacturing Hub launches in Melbourne

AN ATHLETIC approach to developing Australia’s sports manufacturing sector was launched in Melbourne recently by META and the Australian Sports Technologies Network (ASTN). It is named the Sports Advanced Manufacturing Hub.

For a nation with a great record in a wide variety of sports – and a great record in sporting innovation – Australia has garnered a comparatively small slice of the global sports product market. 

While Australia produces and export some of the world’s finest athletes and coaches, and its households consume about $8.2 billion in sports goods and services annually, in 2011-12 sports exports amounted to just $286 million. That is just a tenth of one percent of the global market, according to incubator group ASTN.

The Sports Advanced Manufacturing Hub launched on June 2 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, has been created to address this imbalance and to take Australia’s sports technologies to the world,

At the launch, AFL legend Kevin Sheedy will explain how collaboration and innovation between the sports and manufacturing sectors is vital if Australian sports technology and sports manufacturing is to realise its potential globally.

Also at the event, leading Australian jockey Craig Williams will tell of the importance of high level sports technology and why Australian innovation has a critical role to play in global development of the sector.

META, chaired by manufacturing industry leader Albert Goller, is a collaborative network of more than 250 high potential manufacturing businesses and researchers.

ASTN chairman, James Demetriou  heads an industry-led national collaborative network of more than 150 SMEs, universities and national sporting organisations set up to provide leadership in the commercialisation of Australian developed sports technologies. 

They are joining forces to develop the sports technology industry in Australia, focussed through the creation of the Sports Advanced Manufacturing Hub.

The Sports Advanced Manufacturing Hub aims to provide stronger connections between high potential sports technology SMEs, manufacturers, researchers and large corporations to support the development, marketing and export of new Australian sports technologies globally.

The Hub is designed to provide growth opportunities for its members, particularly those involved in sports apparel, protective wear, equipment, surfaces and wearable devices. It aims to improve partnership opportunities between Australian manufacturers and the sports industry, and promote Australian sports technology capabilities worldwide.

The Hub will open up a greater understanding of what sports technologies are, the potential for cross industry applications and how they are taking over in a positive way in daily life.

The Sports Technology Hub is believed to be leading the way in three high impact projects involving industry collaboration with researchers.



Darren Morgan hails sponsors for 3rd Top Fuel championship


THE BUSINESS of drag racing is probably as hard as the performance sport itself. Darren Morgan should know, because he has just won his third straight Australian Top Fuel drag racing championship – and he has managed to do it from his rural base in Mildura, Victoria, far from the more usual motor racing bases of Sydney, Melbourne and the Gold Coast.

Mr Morgan admits the distance means he has to “drive that extra mile” to engage with his sponsors, but he is always more than prepared to do so, in gratitude for the way they have supported his sport over the years.

In fact, it is this high level of engagement and empathy with his sponsors and business partners that sets Darren Morgan apart, as much as his undoubted high octane, split-second racing skill. It showed in the way he took the title, one race shy of the season finale, but still raced at the next event to delight his sponsors and fans. 

“We are here for our fans, supporters, and our sponsors. And besides there is still a race to win,” grinned Morgan as he climbed into the dragster.

His DMR/American Truck Works dragster took out the Nitro Thunder Top Fuel round at Calder Park and basically secured his third straight ANDRA Championship. All that was required to make it official was to stage the Victorian American Imports dragster in Sydney during qualifying in late November, accept the green light and celebrate.

Mr Morgan could have easily stayed in the pits after the first qualifier to save parts and money, but he was there to win the event and try to double up with two ANDRA gold Christmas Tree trophies.

It is a measure of the DMR team that even though the title was secure, they were prepared to go one better and battle what were some of the season’s most trying conditions.

Saturday saw the temperature climb over 30 degrees “and then on Sunday it was high winds and a lot of dust” Mr Morgan said. On the first qualifying session a mechanical problem hurt the engine early and resulted in a 6.51 elapsed time over the quarter-mile distance.
Headed by crew chief Ben Patterson, the DMR team made the repairs and bounced back in the second session with a clean run in 4.81 seconds at 308mph [495.68 kph]. This moved Morgan from fourth position to third. 

For the final session the Victorian American Imports dragster was looking good in the early increments of the run but the engine suffered some damage around half-track and slowed to a 5.75 at only 157mph.

Mr Patterson believed the car was on a high 4.6 run as the night conditions were the best all day. Morgan finished fifth and had a first round match-up against American Tommy Johnson Jnr.
Eliminations saw one of the biggest Top Fuel fields of the season with eight teams in for round one. Darren Morgan tried hard against his opponent, and while it was a close run, the DMR/Victorian American Imports Top Fuel dragster fell short by .0823 of a second. 

Mr Patterson put it down to wearing out too much clutch “which in turn slowed the car”. 

For Mr Morgan it was more about looking after his supporters and fans at the event.

“Overall it was a successful weekend with another championship win and a successful corporate outing for DMR and the L&H Company – a leading industrial supplier of quality electrical, lighting, heating and cooling, and ventilation components,” he said.

“I’m very thankful to my hard working crew. I know how hard they work and I am especially proud to be working on the car alongside my 17-year-old son, Will. 

“We didn’t have a lot of time between Melbourne and Sydney rounds so I’m thankful for the teams time and dedication.”

Plus, DMR wanted to thank his sponsors and supporters in person at the final event of 2013.

“Having L&H and 100 corporate guests was a huge undertaking,” Mr Morgan said. “It was all about them on Saturday.

“They put their toes in the water at the Nitro Champs back in May and at the Nationals we gave them the full ANDRA Championship drag racing experience. It was up close and personal, and judging from the smiles I saw, I’d say they really enjoyed themselves too. 

This makes it three consecutive Top Fuel Championship for DMR (2011, 2012 and 2013) and a fourth overall for Darren Morgan as a driver. DMR won four of the 11 championship rounds, two runner-ups and two top qualifiers.

Mr Morgan thanked John Bakker and his team, at Victorian American Imports, for their continued support of DMR and for understanding how the team worked, doing most of its testing at race meetings for financial reasons.

Darren Morgan said he was once told he would never succeed in Top Fuel because of his country location – which only him more determined to succeed and win – and with three in a row under his belt now, other drag racers wonder what they are feeding the men and women who build and race the mighty machines of Mildura.





Darren Morgan and the ANDRA Top Fuel winning DMR Victorian American Imports dragster.


Darren Morgan’s DMR team also enjoyed a humorous aside last season when they provided the machinery and drag racing sets for the Australian comedy series, Upper Middle Bogan, starring Glenn Robbins.



Morgan was quoted in the Sunraysia Daily when asked to assess the season, “We seem to be getting better and better. We don’t test like some of the big teams do because we don’t have the finances, we have to test at the race meetings”.
Morgan concluded by saying that winning the championship for 2013 was made even more special knowing it was ANDRA’s 40th year of drag racing in Australia.
Special thanks to John Bakker and his team, at Victorian American Imports for their continued support of DMR.
DMR was backed last year by Victorian American Imports, American Truckworks, Permatex, K Trans WA, Shannons Insurance, Timken, Cabac, Lovells, Castrol, Champion, Disc Brakes Australia, Speedmaster, White International, Stahlwille, Simple Green, CRC, Crow Cams, Fusion, Pavtek, Torque Calibration, Hedman Headers, Rocket Industries, Aeroflow, PPG, Elgas, Super Mini Booster, Garner Transport, GTS Transport, The Brakeman, Performance Diff Services, Replay XD, Lawrence & Hanson, Tiger Light, CRD Engineering, Airmaster, Clevite and Kingpins Custom Paint.



The pinnacle of drag racing success is winning a championship. In the case of Morgan he can hold his head high knowing he has done that – not once, but four times in his career.


The first outing of the 2014 ANDRA Top Fuel Championship fires up in Perth and will feature round one and two on January 10 and 11.
For more info: find and like Darren Morgan on Facebook
 and check out for news, photo gallery and more.
Top Fuel                                                                  Total
Darren Morgan                                                                                805
Phil Lamattina                                                                                 755
Steve Read                                                                                     421
Damien Harris                                                                                 387
Tommy Johnson Jr                                                                         197
Mark Sheehan                                                                                184
Allan Dobson                                                                                  182
Terry Sainty                                                                                     171
John Lamattina                                                                               154
Phil Read                                                                                         131
Luke Shepherd                                                                                 87
Martin Stamatis                                                                                83
Larry Dixon                                                                                       72


Penrith Panthers tops Brand Finance most valuable Aussie sports brand


PENRITH Panthers has taken the number one spot, with a brand value of $46.2 million in the 2013 Top 20 Most Valuable Australian Sports Brands research conducted by Brand Finance. Surprisingly, even though it had the top value, Penrith Panthers only had a brand rating of AA- which actually made it one of the weaker rating brands in the Top 20.

According to Brand Finance Australia director Richard Haigh, “Branding is important to sports teams because it validates their ability to generate value both on and off the field.

“This is particularly true amongst Aussie Rules brands which excite incredible brand loyalty but even they were pipped by the Penrith Panthers.” 

The Panthers Group businesses have closely associated the brand successfully with the elite rugby league team to create a strong business, Mr Haigh said, which has resulted in the high valuation by the co-ordinators of the research, Landor Associates.

There are six NRL teams in the Top 20 Most Valuable Australian Sports Brands. The Sydney Roosters currently have the highest brand rating overall of AAA-.

An indication of the role performance plays in the brand values has been illustrated by coach Tim Sheens’ Kangaroos, who convincingly won the 2013 Rugby League World Cup final against New Zealand in the UK.

Mr Haigh said with Jonathan Thurston winning man of the match and team mate Billy Slater the Golden Boot award, their respective clubs North Queensland Toyota Cowboys and Melbourne Storm would be already leveraging the Thurston and Slater successes to attract further members and support from fans.

The AFL is moving ahead in terms of total Brand Value, said Mr Haigh, accounting for 14 teams with a total brand value of $334 million. This is more than double the value of NRL teams in the Top 20 whose combined brand value totals $151 million.

The key finding from the brand equity research conducted by Landor was that the AFL teams have greater brand equity except for the NRL’s Brisbane Broncos, which has the greatest brand equity of any team.

The study also showed that 27 percent of respondents interact with AFL more than once a week compared with only 21 percent for NRL.

The research also showed the Collingwood Magpies possessed the most valuable AFL brand, rating second in the overall Top 20, with a brand value of $39.1 million after a financially successful year. The Magpies also received a AAA brand rating, the highest rating in the table thanks to a loyal fan base and strong performances on the field.

In terms of overall Brand Strength, the online research by the Sydney office of Landor Associates determined Brisbane Broncos topped the ranking across all codes.

The Essendon Bombers brand rating has suffered this year dropping from potentially a AAA- to a AA+ since the investigation by ASADA. The fall caused overall brand value to drop around five percent to $24 million. The impact could have been more severe but sponsors and fans have remained loyal. The Landor report suggested moving into a new state of the art training facility could see Essendon bounce back for the 2014 season.

Although other teams from Australian Rugby Union, A-League and Big Bash were included in the research, only AFL and NRL teams turned out to be valuable enough to be featured in the Top 20 Most Valuable Australian Sports Brands.

Landor Australia managing director, Dominic Walsh said, “There’s no doubt that the AFL goes deeper in the Australian psyche than NRL – this goes back to its unique Australian heritage.”

For the research, the Australian public ranked each team across four pillars of: knowledge, relevance, differentiation and esteem.



Sport and recreation: winning gold for Australian economy

SPORT and recreation industries generated $12.8 billion in income and employed around 134,000 Australians in 2011-12, according to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures.    

ABS director Andrew Middleton said in addition to providing significant health and social benefits, sport and physical recreation has major economic importance, which is reflected in the latest household expenditure, production and international trade data.

“Australia exported over $358 million in sport and recreation goods in 2012-13, up 26 percent from the previous year,” Mr Middleton said.

“We found that Singapore has become a major destination for exports of Australian sporting goods and services. The value of these exports to Singapore rose from $15.6 million in 2011-12 to $73.4 million in 2012-13.”

Australian households spent more than $8.2 billion on selected sport and recreation products in 2009-10.

This included $4.4 billion spent on sports and recreation services (such as sports facility hire charges and health and fitness studio charges) and $2.9 billion on sports, physical recreation and camping equipment, including swimming pools.

Further details are in Value of Sport, Australia, 2013 (cat. no. 4156.0.55.002) which is available for free download from the ABS website.




World’s top sports people all have an ‘Aussie’ on their back

IT IS hard to overstate the impact that an Australian-developed athletic GPS tracking and monitoring system has had on sport around the world.

The cream of the world’s athletes – across sports as diverse as American football, rugby, Australian football, hockey, baseball, tennis, mountain biking and snow boarding – have become used to the small Catapult Sports monitoring system that tucks neatly between their shoulder blades as they train and perform.

Now with the help of Australia’s science research agency, CSIRO, Catapult Sports has taken its systems to a whole new level.

Coaches of elite athletes have been hindered in the monitoring of vital metrics of their rising stars, as reliance on GPS systems to gather information on their power and speed were unreliable in poor signal areas such as indoor stadiums or arenas.

However, the program Tracking Elite Athletes, which uses revolutionary ClearSky Technology, changes all that by fulfilling the needs of coaches and broadcast media for accurate athlete analytics. It is the result of a joint project between CSIRO and Catapult Sports.

Their achievements were recognised by the engineering fraternity, when they were awarded the highly prestigious President’s Award by Engineers Australia, Sydney Division at the 2013 Engineering Excellence Awards Sydney in September last year.

CSIRO research team leader, Mark Hadley said the technology overcomes limitations of GPS systems by combining the indoor tracking components of CSIRO’s Wireless Ad-hoc System for Positioning (WASP) technology with Catapult Sport’s advanced inertial sensors and algorithms, in a sleek exterior designed for use in professional sport.

The current solution is being used to evaluate performances of athletes in the Australian Football League (AFL).

“The technology that this partnership has developed is 10 times more accurate than GPS systems, and in sports where the results are closer and more technical, these results are much more important,” Dr Hadley said.

He said players’ performances can be quantified and improved by making team training more specific based on game demands, combining the work of the coaching staff with that of the fitness staff, and by comparing the performance levels of players with other players, sessions, or predetermined physical goals.

“Seeing the fruits of your research is fantastic, for 95 percent of research projects never go anywhere, so it is great to be a part of a successful one,” Dr Hadley said. “The win provides inspiration to keep going and do better; it is great to get that recognition amongst our peers.”

In a way, the award made Dr Hadley’s team feel like the winning athletes they assist.

"The win is a fantastic honour and part of the excitement behind winning is having the research and the project recognised,” he said. The project was also awarded an Excellence Award in the category of Software and Embedded Systems.

Catapult was founded in 2006 as a part of Federal Government research to develop technology for use in helping to prepare athletes for Olympic competition. The founders of Catapult – Igor Van de Griendt and Shaun Holthouse – worked closely with the Australian Institute of Sport to invent athlete tracking devices.

These devices contain GPS sensors, as well as 10 other inertial and physiological sensors, including accelerometers, gyroscopes, magnetometers and heart rate sensors. The technology found its legs with field sports such as soccer, field hockey and rugby sevens.

The technology was patented and as part of the agreement with the government, Catapult remained a part of the Australian Institute of Sport for a period of time. Once the exclusive time period elapsed, Catapult began working with professional sport around the world.

Its initial clients were largely based in Australia, and the company adopted a client-driven focus in developing the technology and application of the data. Catapult worked closely with Australian football, rugby, basketball, soccer, skiing, swimming and more.

Initially, the focus of the technology was on establishing the exact demands of match competition – something that previously was impossible. Catapult’s critical differentiator between athlete tracking technology and other tracking devices, such as heart rate monitors, is that athlete tracking allows measurement of the external demand and intensity of the movement of the athlete.

Other tracking technologies have focused on the internal response of the athlete, which is equally important, but athlete tracking devices allow the measurement of the workload that elicited that response.

The technology has been applied beyond sport in the US, where Catapult has its base in Ohio, with military training applications and some moves into workplaces to enhance productivity. 



US NFL concussion settlement is a warning to Australian sports administrators

A LAW researcher at Bond University believes the multi-million dollar legal settlement over concussion-related brain injuries to footballers in the US sends a warning signal to Australian football administrators.

Bond University Faculty of Law Assistant Professor Annette Greenhow said although similar litigation would face a number of difficulties in  Australia, football administrators should take notice.

"Australian sporting bodies and commentators have argued that NFL-type litigation is unlikely to succeed here, but the media spotlight has turned on our sporting codes," Ms Greenhow said.

"Reports of players from a number of football codes complaining of cognitive issues arising from their professional playing days means that football administrators need to address these issues by bringing together all those with an interest in concussion in sport, to recognise the growing community concern and to respond proactively to concussion issues.

"The management of player health and welfare, and a commitment to concussion education and research must be high priorities."

The US National Football League (NFL) recently reached a tentative $765 million settlement over concussion-related brain injuries among retired NFL players who joined in the action.

The NFL has agreed to compensate the former footballers, pay for medical exams and underwrite research for claims involving more than 4500 former players.

Ms Greenhow said the US settlement was monumental, both in terms of size and significance.

"The settlement was wrapped in the usual ‘no admission of liability' packaging and justified on a basis of corporate social responsibility and the desire to avoid protracted and expensive litigation," Ms Greenhow said.

"Because the settlement was mediated, rather than litigated, the allegations were not proven in court, and so the question of whether it was more probable than not that the NFL's actions caused or contributed to the injuries of retired players remains undecided.

"Nonetheless, it would be prudent for Australian football administrators to look carefully at their own policies on concussion management, prevention, research and education to ensure that they too are not subject to similar litigation.

"It is clear that the proceedings against football administrators in the US was the catalyst for the NFL Concussion Settlement.

"Australian football administrators need not wait for litigation but should act quickly to take the necessary steps to protect players from the risks posed by this serious and long-lasting harm."


Elite training facility for Brisbane Lions is in Ipswich City

BRISBANE Lions' new elite training and administration facility (ETAF) is being developed as part of a wider regional sport and community recreation precinct at Springfield Central, in the neighbouring Queensland City of Ipswich.

Springfield is a satellite township created by developer and lifestyle entrepreneur Maha Sinnathamby, developed over three decades, which now sports one of Australia's largest shopping precincts, a Greg Norman-designed golf course - Brookwater - an Education Precinct which includes a University of Southern Queensland campus, a Health Precinct and extensive fibre optic cabling  to homes an businesses throughout the community. Recently Springfield has been the beneficiary of extensive road transport links and a rail service linked to the Brisbane-Ipswich line.

The state-of-the-art Brisbane Lions facility, expected to be completed in mid-2016, will be the centrepiece of the new sports and recreation precinct, to be developed adjacent to Springfield Central Railway Station. The club currently has three training venues - the Gabba, Giffin Park at Coorparoo and Yeronga - so the move to Springfield Central will for teh first time see the Lions train at the same venue across the entire year
Federal Minister for Regional Australia, Catherine King announced a $15 million Federal Government budget commitment had been made available for the project - a key piece of infrastructure in the western corridor of south-east Queensland.
As a result of the funding, the Lions and the AFL have signed a heads of agreement (HoA) with the Ipswich City Council and Springfield Land Corporation for the development of the ETAF. The agreement provides a 99-year lease of the site to the Lions.
The development will be located on a five hectare green-field site at Springfield Central, 25km from Brisbane CBD and 15km from Ipswich CBD.
The site will enable the Lions to develop a "best practice" facility, with significant expansion space, capable of accommodating the club's needs fore the foreseeable future.
Lions chairman, Angus Johnson said the green-field site ensured the Lions did not have to compromise on the ETAF and was the only viable long-term option for the club.
"Today is a strategic investment in our future - a world-class facility supporting community assets that everyone at the Brisbane Lions will call home and be proud of,"  Mr Johnson said at the presentation last week.
"It will not only enhance our ability to develop players, but also attract and retain others, while strengthening our ties with the community via an expanded footprint across our region.
"On behalf of the Brisbane Lions, I'd like to thank the Federal Government, the Ipswich City Council, the Springfield Land Corporation and the AFL for their support and vision in bringing this project to fruition.
"The benefits are significant, not only for the Lions, but also for the community given the facilities that will be available to them.
"It's been a long process, but incredibly worthwhile, and I look forward to seeing the development take shape as well as forging stronger ongoing relationships with the local community."
AFL deputy chief executive officer, Gillon McLachlan said,  "We welcome the announcement of this new development and congratulate the Brisbane Lions on securing the club's long-term growth through what will be a world class facility.
"Not only will this facility ensure the Lions remain at the forefront of elite player development but it will also significantly benefit the local community as part of a broader sport and recreation program.
"The Lions have always maintained a strong community connection and that will only be enhanced through this exciting new facility.
"This development equips the Lions with the necessary facilities to achieve a high level of sustained success on a number of fronts, while bolstering their links to one of the country's fastest growing regions.
"On behalf of the AFL I want to thank those parties responsible for making this development a reality, including the Federal Government, the Ipswich City Council and the Springfield Land Corporation."

Federal Minister for Regional Australia, Catherine King, joined Lions chairman Angus Johnson, and CEO, Malcolm Holmes, for the announcement at Springfield Central. They were joined by AFL general manager for Football Operations Mark Evans, Federal Member for Blair Shayne Neumann, Federal Member for Oxley Bernie Ripoll, Springfield Land Corporation deputy chairman Bob Sharpless and Ipswich City Councillor David Morrison.
Key Facts

1.  The first stage of the ETAF development will include:

  • An MCG-sized AFL oval
  • Oval lighting suitable for NAB Cup and NEAFL matches
  • Best practice gymnasium, aquatic recovery, medical, coaching and player development areas
  • Player lounge and study areas
  • Administration headquarters designed to maximise integration across the business
  • Flexible education spaces including dedicated facilities for the Lions community programs
  • A home for the Hyundai Lions Academy
  • Extensive site preparation works associated with the development including the construction of roadways and civic infrastructure

2.   Stage 1 of the ETAF development is expected to cost in the order of $60 million with funding being provided by contributions from the Springfield Land Corporation, Ipswich City Council, Federal Government, Brisbane Lions and the AFL.  Further funding will also be sought from other parties including the Queensland State Government.
3.   The second stage of the ETAF development will include:

  • A grandstand for up to 2,500 spectators
  • Covered training space suitable for game simulation
  • Additional ovals, training areas and community sports fields

4.   Upon the completion of Stage 2, the ETAF will have the potential to host NAB Cup and NEAFL matches.
5.   The club currently has three training venues - the Gabba, Giffin Park at Coorparoo and Yeronga. The move to Springfield Central will ensure the Lions' train at the same venue across the entire year.
6.   The decision to relocate the club's training and administration headquarters from the Gabba to Springfield was ratified by the Lions' board after a thorough and robust process to determine a new site.
7.   The process started more than two years ago when the club called for expressions of interest. The AFL has been a key stakeholder through the duration of the process.
8.   As part of the process, Mr Johnson and fellow director Mick Power did not participate in the final vote to approve the HoA with the Ipswich City Council, in order to remove any concerns about potential conflicts with their business interests in the region.

Click here for virtual tour of Brisbane Lions' facility




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