Pitt said the commitment, spread over two years, was of great significance not only in Australia’s bid to stay prominent in elite-level competition, but even more so at the grass-roots level.
The Commonwealth Government announced it had committed more than $54million over the next two years to the Australian Institute of Sport as it seeks to find the next generation of world-class athletes to inspire the nation.
Through Sport Australia, another $100million will be allocated to Sporting Schools, community sport infrastructure and social inclusion programs in regional areas.
The Sporting Schools program, of which golf is a key component, allows national sporting organisations to send development officers to schools to impart skills and encourage participation in all levels of sport.
The balance of the funding was committed to social and community infrastructure.
“We are absolutely delighted that the government has realised the importance of sport to the Australian way of life, and we’re excited that golf continues to be a large part of that,” Pitt said.
“It goes without saying that we want to produce major and Olympic champions and create ambassadors for golf and the country through our elite athletes.
“But golf, like all sports, is as much, if not more, about grass roots and participation.
“Golf has proven benefits in health, happiness and wellbeing for the community, so we hope that our clubs and facilities can benefit from the budget in providing access to even more of the population who can benefit from our sport.”
GA high performance general manager Brad James was hopeful some of the increased cash available to the AIS would be available to golf.
“This is great news for Australian sport broadly, because the time and money required to identify and develop talented young athletes to the point that they can compete for international success and Olympic medals is enormous,” James said.
“History tells us that golf has been overlooked previously, but this time we believe that there is a perfect opportunity for the AIS to directly influence our elite athletes of the present and, more importantly, the future.”
Sport Australia chairman John Wylie and AIS chief executive Peter Conde welcomed the funding boost which will provide substantially improved development opportunities for talented young athletes around the country. It will also fund enhanced athlete wellbeing and personal development initiatives, and improved means-tested financial support for athletes.
“This funding is critical to the future of Australian sport,” Wylie said.
“It will substantially improve the AIS’s ability to discover and support our champions of the future. It will provide better opportunities for young Australians everywhere around the country to realise their potential to graduate from club sport to representing their region to their state and ultimately their country.
“In Olympic sport, it can take eight to 12 years to identify a talented young athlete with potential and develop them to be contending for medals at major international events. It requires long-term planning and commitment; it’s an investment in the future.”
Conde said: “Sports have been telling us that athlete pathways are an ongoing challenge, so this funding is a great result for the future of Australian high performance sport.
“This funding will enable the AIS, in partnership with sports and the National Institute Network, to place a greater focus on things such as talent identification and broadening our specialist coaching support for young athletes.
The wellbeing and personal development of athletes continues to be an important AIS priority.
Further investment will now occur in areas such as mental health, athlete engagement with their communities and transition support for retiring athletes.
“Sport Australia and the AIS thank the Australian Government and Minister for Sport Bridget McKenzie for this investment. It is recognition that sport and physical activity are incredibly important to Australians,” Wylie said.