Australian Sports and Best Practices: Insights from Ian Robilliard

Introduction of Interview with Australian Sports legend Ian Robilliard

In this interview, Alan Olsen discusses with Ian Robilliard Australian sports and best practices and coaching insights


Alan Olsen

Welcome to American Dreams My guest today is Ian Robilliard. Ian, welcome to today’s show.


Ian Robilliard

Thanks very much Alan. Really lovely to be here.


Alan Olsen

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.


Ian Robilliard

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.


Alan Olsen

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?


Ian Robilliard

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.


Alan Olsen

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?


Ian Robilliard

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.


Alan Olsen

What changes have you seen in the Australian Sports throughout the years?


Ian Robilliard

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.


Alan Olsen

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?


Ian Robilliard

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?


Alan Olsen

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?


Ian Robilliard

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.


Alan Olsen

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.


Ian Robilliard

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.


Alan Olsen

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.


Ian Robilliard

No problem, Alan. Appreciate the time and the opportunity to have a chat


Curtesy of Alan Olsen’s

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    Ian Robilliard on Alan Olsen's American Dreams Radio
    Ian Robilliard

    Ian Robilliard has a remarkable sporting and business background; described by some as ‘typically Australian’ he is anything but typical!

    Ian Robilliard has a diverse sporting background; he has received extensive awards and honors’ in both Rugby Union and Basketball in a career that spans in excess of thirty years as a player, coach and administrator.

    In Rugby Union, Ian played first grade in the highly competitive Sydney Shute Shied for Parramatta (1979); while in high school he represented NSW Schools (1978), and the Rest of Australia (1977). Ian represented NSW Country (1987) during a playing stint at Terrigal (1987-88) where he received the Central Coast Player of the Year Award in 1987; he was later selected in the Terrigal Trojans Team of the Decade for the 1980’s.

    Ian Robilliard combined his Rugby talents with Basketball, where he became the first NSW player to ever Captain an Australian Basketball team when he represented Australia in the U20 World Championships in Brazil in 1977; he was a member of the Australian Olympic squad between 1979 – 1984, he represented Australian when he competed in a test match series in Melbourne Park in 1981. In the National Basketball League (NBL) he won numerous awards at the Newcastle Falcons and Sydney Kings; In Newcastle he was selected in Ten (10) Best Players in the Twenty year history of the Newcastle Falcons NBL Team (1979 – 1998), and for the Sydney Kings the Most Inspirational Player 1989 and 1991 before he moved into the coaching ranks as Assistant Coach to Bob Turner in 1992 & 1993. In 2000 Ian Robilliard received an Australian Sports Medal for his contribution to Basketball.

    In 2010 Ian Robilliard accepted an offer to be the Head Coach of the Sydney Kings (2010 and 2011), a challenge of considerable proportions! It is history that the Kings didn’t excel on the court during their first season 2010-11, yet many people have described the return season of the Sydney Kings as one to envy. The Sydney Kings led the league in crowd attendance, merchandise sales, website traffic and in many eyes ‘cultural elements’ foreign to other clubs; many of these performance measures attributable to the leadership of the head coach.

    The Sydney Kings is an iconic Australian Sporting brand and Ian Robilliard’s knowledge of the development of ‘Cultural DNA’ and how to empower people around him has been widely acclaimed in both sport and business. His unique skills in leadership are well known to those who work with him, this is evident by the success he has enjoyed in both the sports sector and the sports business sector.

    In 2011 Ian Robilliard agreed to a request by the Board of the Sydney Kings to move from the Head Coach position to the CEO position. Ian Robilliard undertook the CEO role in a transitional capacity, his loyalties lay on the Central Coast and in particular with the Central Coast Academy of Sport. Ian undertook his CEO role while continuing his Managing Directorships with the Central Coast Academy of Sport and the Gold Coast Academy of Sport. Ian relinquished his role as the CEO of the Sydney Kings in October 2012 to concentrate fully on the Central Coast and Gold Coast Academies of Sport.

    In business, Ian Robilliard has an on-going defining career; as the National Education Director and then Chief Operations Officer (a position second to the CEO) of the PGA of Australia (1993 – 2003) he oversaw a period of extensive growth of the PGA of Australia; history will show many programs and event are now duplicated and licensed around the world. Ian left the PGA of Australia, as he was unwilling to move his family to Melbourne where the PGA of Australia was relocating the Head Office, this became the catalyst to develop the most envied Regional Academy of Sport in Australia, the Central Coast Academy of Sport.

    Ian left the PGA of Australia (Dec 2003) to establish from scratch the Central Coast Academy of Sport (2004), the Central Coast Academy of Sport is an incredible success story and one synonymous with his astute leadership and untiring drive. The Central Coast Academy of Sport is an organization known for its high level of integrity and professional business dealings; the Central Coast Academy is a benchmark for regional excellence. In 2009 the Central Coast Academy model was established on the Gold Coast under license and guidance of Ian Robilliard, a clear sign of a business model worthy of duplication. In 2015 Ian was awarded the Outstanding Service to Central Coast Sport by the Central Coast Sports Federation, this award rightfully acknowledging his untiring efforts for Central Coast athletes.

    In 2017 Ian Robilliard received an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for his service to sport as a player, coach and administrator, due recognition for his years of tireless work in the sports industry.

    Ian Robilliard is an accomplished public speaker; he regularly provides seminars and public speaking engagements across a variety of topics focused upon his knowledge of performance measures in business and sport.

    Ian Robilliard leads an incredibly active and full life, married to Christine, with three Son’s (Sam, Jack and Oliver) he continues to drive opportunities’ for sportspeople at all levels of sport through his active involvement with the Central Coast Academy of Sport. Ian Robilliard is quietly spoken and understated, he is an unsung hero of Australian Sport and what he has done for athletes, coaches and administrators of the Central Coast is potentially second to none.

    Alan Olsen on Alan Olsen's American Dreams Radio
    Alan Olsen

    Alan is managing partner at Greenstein, Rogoff, Olsen & Co., LLP, (GROCO) and is a respected leader in his field. He is also the radio show host to American Dreams. Alan’s CPA firm resides in the San Francisco Bay Area and serves some of the most influential Venture Capitalist in the world. GROCO’s affluent CPA core competency is advising High Net Worth individual clients in tax and financial strategies. Alan is a current member of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (S.I.E.P.R.) SIEPR’s goal is to improve long-term economic policy. Alan has more than 25 years of experience in public accounting and develops innovative financial strategies for business enterprises. Alan also serves on President Kim Clark’s BYU-Idaho Advancement council. (President Clark lead the Harvard Business School programs for 30 years prior to joining BYU-idaho. As a specialist in income tax, Alan frequently lectures and writes articles about tax issues for professional organizations and community groups. He also teaches accounting as a member of the adjunct faculty at Ohlone College.

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