Australian Sports and Best Practices: Insights from Ian Robilliard
Introduction of Interview with Australian Sports legend Ian Robilliard
Welcome to American Dreams My guest today is Ian Robilliard. Ian, welcome to today’s show.
Thanks very much Alan. Really lovely to be here.
Well, it is certainly a pleasure to to have you here. I know you’re you’re recording from Australia, the Land Down Under and that we happen to meet at a Golden State Warriors game.
Yeah, and very, very special game for us we had a delegation traveled to America to look at best practice in sport. And we’re fortunate to be hosted by by the Warriors.
So a shout out to metabo who looked after us but also Joe Laker as well who looked after us. So it was lovely.
Very good. Well, hey, I look forward to getting into you sharing about your background. And what brought you over to America for your VIP tour. And and let’s, let’s talk a little bit about your, what you do on a daily basis.
So first, for the listeners here if you can give us your background and what, what brought you up to where you are today?
Okay, well, I know I don’t have long I’m 63 have been heavily involved in sport. From a young age both as a player, then as a coach, so a coach professionally played professionally. Then as an administrator in sports business, which is where I reside today.
I got into that I was fortunate I was a teacher by training. But moved out of teaching into business administration, with the PGA of Australia professional golf. I was just very fortunate to have a great CEO who was a close friend and a great mentor.
And then circumstances made I left the PGA and set up a regional Academy of sport. So in in Australia, in New South Wales, particularly, this is where I work day to day, there are 11 organizations, I manage one of those 11.
And it was that group of CEOs that came to America, and that’s where we met the Warriors going.
Yeah, so, you know, the Australians have a great love for the sports.
And you know, it’s interesting, and I think oftentimes sports can kind of unify this world through the Olympics, and, you know, international exchange, but you know, your background in in sports, I guess, did you decide to focus in on that at a very early AGN?
Or how did our, how did that come about?
Yeah, I guess because I had a lot of success as a player. I followed a career in sport, being a PE teacher. And I’d say I was a good teacher, but I was a better administrator. So I left teaching.
And I got into the PGA of Australia, which was fantastic because of the diversity of the job. It’s not just professional golf, it’s its education, its tournaments, its training, it’s merchandise. It’s, you know, it’s Junior development.
And as I said, I had a great mentor in that space. And when I left the PGA, to stay involved in sport. This is probably the business background in me, I did a SWOT analysis on myself.
And that was the cattle to set up an organization that’s highly regarded in New South Wales and feel very, very proud of that. And I feel very fortunate that I’ve been able to follow the love of sport into a career vocational position.
What changes have you seen in the Australian Sports throughout the years?
Yeah, a lot. Well, as you know, and most Americans that the affinity between America and Australia is very strong. Our our countries are closely aligned with the changes sport in Australia, I think, you know, what, we’ve got 26 million people.
So we’re, you know, that there’s not a lot of us. And we’ve got, we’ve got, I think, a great environment in which sport takes center stage 90 90% Or would be more than 90% of adults have an interest in sport.
Whether that’s playing, watching, spectating, children playing it. And because of that sport is always fairly high on the Australian radar. The change is to go back to your to your question.
You know, there’s, over the years increased compliance because of government intervention, government involvement. There’s a greater focus, and rightly so on gender neutrality, so greater focus on women involvement in sport.
And if we had our time again, that focus should have occurred 25 years ago, because our women are sports women in this country at the top level are very, very good, very competitive. So we’re seeing a lot of a lot of that.
And there’s, over the years, there’s been a rise of second and third tier sports that you’ll now see the Olympic Games where Australian, Australia has done very well.
Surfing BMX skateboarding, these types of sports, you know, 1015 years ago just weren’t there they are now.
You know, it’s interesting how this all evolves. And if, when I was young, that word BMX was non existent. But that some of these secondary sports have become quite big. Over the years.
So, you know, recently you attended as a study tour in the US, with your group of Vi VIPs, from from Australia involved in the sports industry, and what what were you looking to find in those visits?
What’s the first first time in 30 years, our network have done this. So it was a bit of a seek out mission. I was fortunate, I kind of had a fair hand in putting the tour together because of just context I had through my background.
But it was to look at different colleges, different professional teams, and try and see what they’re doing that we could then bring back and apply in Australia.
The couple of things that came out of out of the trip other than the fact we we did we had a lot of visitations in the 11 days, I think we had over 30 visitations with different staff. But we had a lot of fun. That’s an Australian trait.
But the takeaways were there were a couple it reinforced reinforced that we’re doing a pretty good job with limited resources. So that’s typically I think, the easy way of just really in a wet we’ve got some real boundaries because of distance, and lack of people.
But the lessons we learned from the warriors in terms of absolute best practice, could we duplicate that in Australia? No. But we’ve got our eyes on where our athletes can go.
But also in the s&c space, we caught up with a good friend Nick Popovich at USC, who is the head of Strength and Conditioning for the USC Trojans women’s side to spend a morning with Nick to look at what they’re doing in their s&c space.
And how we can apply those those learnings back into our programs. We’ve already started that. So it was to look at what is best practice? Can we duplicate it? Can we modify it? Can we apply it in our setting?
And if we can, we’re continuing in front of the bell curve. Because again, and you’d know this Allen in business, if you’re standing still you’re going backwards was the same in sport. So we had that mantra the whole trip?
Yeah, Nick, when you when you look and reflect on your life, your life path of bringing you up to where you are today. If you had your time again, in in the sports, the active, active, playing the sports, what would you do different? If indeed anything?
Yeah, that’s, that’s a tough question. I guess at a macro level, sport in our country is just over governed.
So we have local associations where you’d have high school kids to play in high school, your kid from high school to college to probe pretty simple, seamless transition. We have high schools, but next to that we have local associations.
Then above that we have state sporting organizations. Above that we have the national sporting organizations.
And in each one of those steps, and I’ll use basketball, which was my background, you have hundreds and hundreds of organizations that look after the one sport. So at a macro level, we’re just over governed in Australia.
And if you could streamline that, you’d get some great outcomes. Probably more at a micro level day to day. If I had more time again, if we could get staff to specialize earlier in their vocations and in their careers.
The outcomes of our our, our athletes would be fast tracked and probably even better still.
Well make us excuse me, Ian has certainly been a pleasure having you with us today. I just curious sir. Andrew Bogut Have you run across paths with him.
I did. So a few years ago when the lockout occurred, I was actually the head coach of the Sydney kings and Bogut was in Australia and our club tried to get get into play.
But we were unable our owners were unable to cover the insurance costs in case of a short term injury, so he wasn’t able to play he’s now a part owner of the Sydney kings and the owner of the Sydney kings of Philip Paul Smith.
has a lot to do with San Francisco with the Warriors Smitty Smith he’s got Bogota involved as a part owner so I’ve kind of have run across him in a former life and I keep an eye on what he’s up to.
Well we loved him he was part of the reason that they got to their their first championship after Joe Laker acquired the team and and so anyways, you run across a wishing well from from us.
No problem, Alan. Appreciate the time and the opportunity to have a chat