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Heading the Australian Sports Commission a dream role for Kieren Perkins

20 December 2021

Following the announcement of Kieren Perkins as the next CEO of the Australian Sports Commission, ABC Grandstand spoke with the two-time Olympic champion to hear about his vision for sport in Australia. Here’s an abridged Q&A between Kieren Perkins and host Quentin Hull as it went to air over the weekend.

Audio: ABC Summer Grandstand Host Quentin Hull speaks to Kieren Perkins

Question from Quentin Hull: It’s a big job you’ve got and one that you’re keen to embrace:

Answer from Kieren Perkins: Thanks Quentin. It’s incredibly exciting to have the opportunity to take on a role like this. With Brisbane 2032 and all of the test events and other activities in the lead up, it’s certainly an exciting time.

Q: Do you feel ready to bring the love of sport and knowledge of the business world together in this role?

A: 100%. There has been a couple of occasions over the years where I’ve wanted to get more directly involved from a paid perspective in sport. I’ve had numerous honourary board roles including the Sports Commission and that connection and love of sport has always been there. Finding that mechanism to bring my corporate experience and engage myself with the complexity and challenges that a business is facing – it’s all just come together beautifully for this role. Because of my background we’ll talk about the elite side of sport but the reality is that the Sports Commission plays such an important role in all levels of sport, from participation right through to elite.

There are a lot of big challenges sport is facing systemically and also from a sustainability perspective. To be able to come in strategically, frame some of those up and start to build the capability within the environment as a whole to help support sport so that when we get to Brisbane 2032, it’s a springboard onto bigger and better things rather than an endpoint like happened after Sydney (2000).

Q: Do you think high performance success drives participation, or does participation drive high performance success?

A: It’s the ultimate chicken and egg situation isn’t it. From my perspective I’m not sure but what I do know is that if they’re both not working really well, sport ultimately doesn’t thrive. When we see people on the world stage performing at the highest level, it inspires younger athletes to jump into the pool, run on the track, pursue footy or whatever it may be. But without a massive base of participants involved in fun, engaging activities developing skills and a love of sport, it all falls apart. They are both incredibly important.

Q: Do we need to look again at how we do elite sport in this country in terms of the institute systems?

A: My experience is that when you bring the best people together in the one environment, the outcome is quite extraordinary. The AIS is incredibly important. What the AIS is and how we do that, we will have to answer in the coming years.

In my sports journey as both a competitor and an administrator, there hasn’t been a time that I have thought to myself that the AIS doesn’t have a role. It’s incredibly important, we just need to make sure the way it is utilised is fit for purpose.

Kieren Perkins speaks in front of broadcast microphones while Josephine Sukkar watches.
Kieren Perkins was named the next CEO of the Australian Sports Commission on Friday, at an announcement with ASC Chair Josephine Sukkar AM, right.
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