Interview with Phil Jones, Chief Executive Officer, AYF

The announcement of the senior coaching positions & team management for the next four years, outlined by the AYF Programme.

National Head Coach for the new Program will be Ukrainian-born Coach, Victor Kovalenko. As Australian 470 Class Coach for the Sydney 2000 Games,
Kovalenko achieved great success when both the Mens and Womens crews secured Gold on Sydney Harbour

Other key members for the Program include Tracey Johnstone (High Performance Manager), and National Coaches Dayne Sharp, Erik Stibbe and Brendan Todd. Australian coaching legend, Mike Fletcher, will also continue as a consultant to the programs.

Phil Jones: What has been learnt over the last three years is that the quality of the coaching and support personnel is one of the key issues. So the principle we used was to put the team in place and then let them consider what the most appropriate approach was.

We were indeed fortunate that the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) confirmed that we would have a sailing programme before the Olympics, so we were able to give some thought to the structure and obviously how much money we'd have to spend

So from now we will identify where specific coaches will work with which classes.

There is a decision about sailing classes for the next Olympics pending at ISAF in November, so its difficult to sure about them now & we are shooting it a bit in the dark until then.

We do want to extend the coaching programme more broadly. We will be working with Victorian Yachting Council to identify a coach to work in Victoria. They will also work on the National Programme but not on a full time basis. Their role will be to look after the Victorian State Programme and then take the ideas and concepts back to the National Scheme.

We are working now to broaden the base to ensure that the State Institute of Sports becomes more involved with sailing. There has been significant advances over the last three years in New South Wales, and as a result the state sailing programme is now worth $160,000 to sport. Obviously we would like to see that duplicated across the other states. The Victorian Yachting Council does have a programme but it is not very significant. In Victoria, the Yachting council has worked hard to seek funds and they do now have independent backers. We are also making a small contribution ourselves and that will help employ a coach. The most important aspect is getting a programme, once you do have programme, things do come to stick to it!

We have been successful in raising the amount of money from the Sports Commission, from the announcement made in May. The Prime Minister has just announced that there will be increased level of spending for sport. The actual level for has yet to be determined but for sailing, coming second on the medal table is great, and it is very unlikely that we could ever surpass swimming, it is very difficult to compare sport with sport in terms of medal count. But medal for medal sailing comes out well, there are 11 athletes and 4 medals we were pleased. It gives us a good base to build from. The increased recognition for sailing is very crucial.

It is also important to put the next programme in place as early as possible. Obviously we were very keen to confirm, in particular, Victors Kovalenko role, because there was a lot of interest from other places. The nice thing is that Victor is very passionate about Australia, which is excellent. Victor works very much with people, his management style is very inclusive, which is important in a people business like this.

We will also begin to see the development of broader base educational and youth development programme. Looking overseas, comparisons are fairly alarming, compared to the UK for example. They spend about a million pounds, ($3,000,000) a year on their youth development programme is more than we spent on our Olympic programme last year. But we do need to be running at that level and we will all be working hard in terms of finding additional funding, corporate funding for those types of programmes.

I'm sure that every sport will try and do that. We do need to look outside the square in terms of staying competitive. I think what we saw at the Olympics was actual evidence of a youth program that has been in place for 20 years. We are starting to reap the benefits of this. I do see that this is the key, working within the Youth Development area. People do start to see sailing as part of a stream, a career development programme.

The appointment of this outstanding coaching team for the next 4 years is the first step along this path.