Clyde Street

Learning, Teaching, Performing


A Day at the #ASTN2012 Conference

The Australian Sports Technologies Network (ASTN) Annual Conference was held in The Captain’s Room, Simonds Stadium, Kardinia Park, Geelong on 2 November.

Senator Kate Lundy opened this inaugural ASTN Conference. Senator Lundy, the Minister for Sport and the Minister Assisting for Industry and Innovation is a passionate advocate for sport and technology. I think Australian sport is served remarkably by her. She even found time to tweet (#ASTN2012 was the tag for the conference) about the event.


The Chair of the Board of the Australian Sports Commission, John Wiley added his welcome to Conference delegates. In his talk, John noted the creativity, and risk appetite in the United States of America. He commented on the rewarding experience of entrepreneurial spirit and discussed how this might be expressed as a national competitive advantage through the combination of sport, science and research. John saw a great opportunity to combine these in the ASTN.

John did discuss the retention of Intellectual Property (IP) and the systematic approach commercial success. He thought the NASA model was an excellent example of this approach. John cited two examples of the commercialisation of IP in Australian sport: the development of the MiniMax tracking units that emerged from a Cooperative Research Centre; and the emergence of the CSIRO/AIS RF WASP technology.

John concluded his talk with the observation that the sport sector is good at innovating but poor at commercialising. He noted that risk capital is becoming more available. He suggested that two key issues need to be addressed in growingsports technologies markets: how to develop a culture of partnership and collaboration; and how to support the people who do make a difference.

He noted that post London Olympics and Paralympics, ASTN has a very important role to play and he welcomed the Australian Government’s support for ASTN.

The newly elected Mayor of Geelong, Keith Fagg, welcomed delegates too.

Thereafter there was a packed day of presentations and discussions.

Danny Samson shared the findings of his Lifting Our Game: Developing sports technologies to create value in his Crossing the boundary: from invention to commercial outcomes talk. Danny discussed pathways from invention to commercial outcomes. He lauded sport technology invention engines but lamented the limited commercialisation activity to date. He shared his experience of his involvement in the Diggerworks community of practice as an example of how a sector can come together to integrate research, development and commercial outcomes. He pointed to Samsung’s flourishing as a research and development organisation.

John Bertrand followed on from Danny and discussed Leading High Performance and Technology Innovation in Sport. He shared his experiences of start up ventures in the 1990s and used his current involvement with Sailing’s High Performance program in the pursuit of best practice to discuss how successful organisations position themselves. At present, the High Performance program is undertaking a benchmarking study of systems that support athletes, coaches, and administrators. John concluded his presentation with a the discussion of the soul component of success and the spirit of winning inspired by his conversations with Victor Kovalenko.

There followed five panel presentations and discussions.

First Panel Discussion

National Sporting Organisations and Their Technology Needs

Phil Martin (Australian Football League), Alisa Camplin-Warner, Alec Buttfield (Cycling Australia) and Nick Brown (Australian Institute of Sport)

Second Panel Discussion

The Sporting Goods Industry and Sports Consumer Trends

Ian Krawitz (10 Thousand Feet), Shannon Walker (Australian Sporting Goods Association), Paul Faulkner (Nike Asia-Pacific), Chris Morgan (Associated Retailers)

Third Panel Discussion

Australia’s Sports Technology research expertise: Insights from our universities and research centres (Part 1)

 Franz Konstantin Fuss (RMIT University), Michael McKenna (Victoria University), Paul Collins (Deakin University), Richard Helmer (CSIRO).

Fourth Panel Discussion

Australia’s Sports Technology research expertise: Insights from our universities and research centres (Part 2)

Daniel James (Griffith University), Keith Lyons (University of Canberra), Leon Piterman (Monash University), Nick Brown (Australian Institute of Sport)

Fifth Panel Discussion

(Chaired by James Demetriou, Australian Sports Technology Ventures)

Sports Technologies and Business: What it takes to be successful

Brian Cooney (IMG Sports Technology Group), Brendan Denning (Albion Sports), Geoff Maloney (POD Active) Nick Maywald (Sporting Pulse)

The day concluded with the ASTN’s inaugural Sports Tech Investment Pitching Competition. Albion Sports took out the first prize.

It was a whirlwind of a day in the Captain’s Room. I was very impressed by the range of ideas and practices that were shared at the Conference. I do think that this is a great time to explore a connectivist approach in a burgeoning Australian Sports Technologies Network.

I am optimistic that the day stimulated thoughts about a non-zero sum approach to the flourishing of Sport Technology in Australia. There are enormous opportunities to be explored and realised.


Philip, Mark, Mick, Wayne, Brian and Donald

This is a brief post about well-being. It was prompted by media reports of Mark Thompson‘s decision to end his head coach’s role at Geelong Football Club. An ABC screening of Glass a Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts was the catalyst for writing.

The other people in the title are Mick Malthouse, Wayne Bennett, Brian Smith and Donald Friend. Each of them has a place in this story about well-being for coaches.

These are the themes that link all six for me:

1. Creativity and expertise are fascinating attributes enriched by age.

2. Both attributes require enormous energy to sustain them.

3. Maintaining this energy is a lifelong business.

I was fascinated to listen to Philip Glass’s account of maintaining energy at the age of 70 and to learn of the spiritual dimension of his well-being. The Portrait discusses his involvement with Buddhism, Tao and the Toltec tradition. An interview elsewhere notes that:

Much has been made of Glass’s Buddhism, but he’s at pains to point out that he only dipped a toe in it. “I’m not a card-carrying member of anything,” he insists. “You have to understand I’m a thoroughly Western person. But I’m also a modern person, which means that world culture has come to me from all sides. I’ve accepted huge swathes of it which my parents would never have known about.” Here he understates: it was the singing of the Gyuto monks that gave his soundtrack for Martin Scorsese’s Kundun (1997) its haunting power, and his Tibetan collaborations are continuing, with a benefit concert for Tibetan refugees soon to take place in New York. Work after work proclaims how ingrained his Buddhist instincts now are.

After watching the Portrait I was struck by the connections between a centred place in the world and longevity as a coach. Mick Malthouse and Wayne Bennett were Grand Final winning coaches last weekend. Their shared experience of coaching spans half a century. Brian Smith coached the Roosters to the rugby league grand final in his first year at the club and after a third of a century of coaching. Philip Glass was born in 1937, Wayne Bennett in 1950, Mick Malthouse in 1953, Brian Smith in 1954 and Mark Thompson in 1963.

An interview with Ian Britain on Margaret Throsby’s ABC Classic FM program introduced me to Donald Friend. Notwithstanding Donald’s dislike of sport I was struck by the role diaries played in his life. He “left behind more than two million words of brilliant, intimate diary entries one of the greatest acts of autobiography in Australian history”. In a review of Ian Britain’s book about Donald Friend’s diaries it was noted that:

Most of all, the diaries attest to his ceaseless desire to understand and master his art. ‘Neither love, food, writing, money or music, nor flattery nor sincere admiration nor the company of friends (all the things I am most partial to),’ Friend wrote, ‘could seduce me from my painting.’ Reworked into a chronological narrative, and supplemented by material from correspondence and interviews, The Donald Friend Diaries reveal an extraordinary Australian life.

Mark Thompson’s decision to stand down from his role at Geelong has raised renewed interest in and concern about well-being. Mark gave a public indication of his impending decision at his club’s award night at the end of September. This is an audio recording from 4 October that confirmed his decision.

The synchronicity of the arts programs with coaching stories has encouraged me to think about the support coaches need and can be offered. I see enormous opportunities to support coaches’ well-being from outside sport cultures. Philip Glass demonstrates just how powerful a commitment to spiritual understanding can be and Donald Friend’s experiences in troubled times underscores how important personal expression can be.

Photo Credits

Sonata Music

143/365 Diary