About Us


The Northern Inland Academy of Sport (NIAS) is an incorporated, community-based organisation established in 1992, one of 11 Regional Academies of Sport in NSW.
The charter of NIAS is to develop potential on and off the field for the many talented young athletes, coaches and officials across the region. This is achieved through the collective efforts of the volunteer program personnel and staff, under the guidance of the Board of Directors.

NIAS works with many partners including the NSW Office of Sport, NSW Institute of Sport, state and local sports associations, local government authorities, schools and valued sponsors in delivering its services to the talented athletes of the region. 

As part of the NSW Regional Academies of Sport network (RAS), NIAS is recognised by the NSW Office of Sport in its Future Champions strategy as an important agency in the development pathway for talented, pre-elite athletes.  For more information about the NSW Office of Sports FTEM NSW Framework, follow this link .  

NIAS is committed to working in partnership with government, sporting organisations, and the local community to provide high quality support to talented athletes and to ensure that its programs offer clear development pathways and quality life experiences through sport.


NIAS conducts talent identification activities, targeted sport programs and promotes development opportunities for talented athletes, coaches and officials, providing greater accessibility to services for regional people.

While individual athletic development is our key focus, the Northern Inland Academy of Sport offers personal development opportunities that aim to produce future sport and community leaders.

Current Programs

With the support and endorsement of the state sports association, the Northern Inland Academy of Sport currently coordinates programs in the following sports*: Basketball, Mountain Biking, Football, Golf, Hockey, Netball, Rugby League, Tennis, Triathlon and offers an Individual Future Star program to identify and support over 280 talented athletes and 42 coaches across the North West/New England. Sports programs and activities are conducted throughout the region, depending on the facilities available. Alongside enhanced skill development and access to higher levels of competition, NIAS programs serve to compliment regional sports offerings through the provision of additional performance support activities such as sports psychology, nutrition, strength and conditioning, and media training.

(* NB. Sports programs offered may change from time to time).

Our Staff

Shona Eichorn

Chief Executive Officer

The first CEO at NIAS (1992-1997) when the organisation commenced, Shona Eichorn (nee Blok) returned to the role in 2021. During that time, Shona worked in the corporate sport and education sectors, as well as small business, and volunteered in many sports and other community organisations across Northern NSW, particularly Netball, Cricket, and Rugby. A self-professed sports tragic, Shona is passionate about supporting regional people and communities, and making opportunities happen.

Martin Rae Technical Director at the Northern Inland Academy of Sport

Martin Rae

Technical Director 

Martin Rae, a highly-qualified Scottish football coach, has brought a surge of expertise to the Northern Inland region with his appointment as the Technical Director at the Northern Inland Academy of Sport (NIAS).

With over three decades of football experience, including both playing and coaching at various age levels, as well as a stint at the professional Scottish football club Ross County Football Club, NIAS is incredibly grateful to have Martin on board.

As the Technical Director, Martin not only focuses on NIAS FC coaches and athletes but will also engage with the wider football community, consulting with clubs, schools, and councils to foster football’s growth and development across the entire region, for both boys and girls.


Programs Manager

Nicole Wong joins the Northern Inland Academy of Sport (NIAS) as the newly-appointed Sports Programs Manager, bringing with her a wealth of experience and an unwavering commitment to sports development.

Hailing from the vibrant landscapes of Southland and Taranaki in New Zealand, Nicole’s journey in sports administration began with a passion for fostering excellence and growth within the sporting community. Her extensive background working with schools, clubs, athletes, and coaches laid the foundation for her dedication to holistic athlete development.

With a keen eye for talent honed through experiences studying and competing in the United States and England, Nicole’s vision aligns seamlessly with NIAS’s mission to nurture aspiring athletes and coaches across the region. Her appointment comes at a pivotal time for NIAS, as it continues to serve as a beacon of opportunity and pathways for talent across 12 Local Government Areas, emphasising its commitment to regional sports development.

Board of Directors

Chris Ash (Chair)

Trent Donaldson (Deputy Chair)

Terry Psarakis

Ashlee Birch

Diane Gray

Michelle Morgan

Gaylene Ryan

Life Members

1999- Robert Lewis (Board Member) 

1999- Lou Daneili (Media Support) 

1999- Stephen Griffith (Board Member) 

1999- Kevin Anderson (Media Support) 

1999- Roy Powell (Board Member) 

1999- Chris Kiely (Board Member) 

1999- Margaret Corbett (Netball Support) 

1999- Richard Webb (Softball Head Coach) 

2000- Craig Redmayne (Rugby League Head Coach) 

2001- Harold Heffernan (Board Member) 

2001- Bob Hickson (Board Member) 

2001- Jeff Aldridge (Touch Head Coach)

2001- Janet Mason (Netball Head Coach) 

2002- Scott Dickson (Boys Soccer Head Coach) 

2003- Rochelle Joyce (Netball Association Coach) 

2003- Mark Golledge (Board Member) 

2004- Julie Fuller (Netball Association Coach) 

2005- Wally Franklin (Board Member) 

2006- Gaylene Ryan (Board Director) 

2006- Kim Preece (Girls Soccer Head Coach) 

2007- Ruth Brock (Netball Manager) 

2007- Jo Van der Vliet (Netball Head Coach) 

2007- Terry Psarakis (Board Member) 


2012- Phil Wheaton (Academy Support) 

2019- Diane Gray (Board Member) 

2020- Mike Rabbitt (Media Support) 

2022- Greg Doolan (Head Hockey Coach)

2023 – Warren Ansell (Performance Support)

2023 – Michelle Morgan (Board Member)

NIAS services the New England North West region of NSW. This includes the communities of Tamworth, Armidale, Glen Innes, Inverell and as far north as Tenterfield, Moree, Narrabri, Gunnedah and Liverpool Plains, and Walcha in the east, as shown on the map below.

The Northern Inland Academy of Sport (NIAS) is committed to the safety and wellbeing of all children and young people who participate in our activities. We take seriously our responsibility to deliver a sporting environment that is caring, nurturing and safe. We support the rights of the child and will act at all times to ensure that a child safe environment is maintained.

We have zero tolerance for harassment, discrimination, bullying, child abuse, and all allegations and safety concerns will be treated very seriously and consistently.
We have specific policies and procedures in place that support our athletes whilst assisting our staff, board members and volunteers in achieving these commitments.

Anti-Doping Policy 2023

Athlete Code of Conduct Policy 2023

Athlete Eligibility Policy 2023

Athlete Policy 2023

Athlete Selection Policy 2023

Behaviour, Supervision & Discipline Policy 2023

Privacy Policy 2023

Support Personnel Code of Conduct 2023

NIAS | Stairway to Success

Office of Sport | Individual Athlete Development Plan

Office of Sport | Self Reflection


Office of Sport | Pathway and Development

The NSW Office of Sport through its Pathways area within the Sector performance team, provides guidance and ongoing support specific to best practice participant and athlete development to a broad range of stakeholders and organisations. https://www.sport.nsw.gov.au/pathways-and-development

Future Champions

As a member academy of the Regional Academies of Sport (RAS), NIAS is a key system partner of the NSW Office of Sport’s Future Champions Strategy. FUTURE CHAMPIONS is a four-year strategy launched in December 2019 by the NSW Office of Sport, that aims to equip and empower our foundational and emerging athletes (and their parents, coaches etc.) to fulfill their sporting aspirations and engage and unite our pathways sector and stakeholders to provide them the best support at the right time. https://www.sport.nsw.gov.au/pathways-and-development/future-champions


Adapted from the original FTEM Framework (Gulbin, Croser, Morley & Weissensteiner, 2013), the FTEM NSW Participant and Athlete Framework developed by the NSW Office of Sport, is directly informing and supporting the guidance and ongoing support provided by the Office of Sport Pathways team including the NSW Government’s Future Champions – Pathways to Sporting Success strategy. https://www.sport.nsw.gov.au/pathways-and-development/ftem-nsw

FTEM flyer https://www.sport.nsw.gov.au/sites/default/files/2021-06/FTEM-NSW-Flyer-Final.pdf

Pathway Resources


Coach resources: https://www.sport.nsw.gov.au/pathways-and-development/coaches

Parent resources: https://www.sport.nsw.gov.au/pathways-and-development/parents-guardians-and-carers

Emerging athlete resources: https://www.sport.nsw.gov.au/pathways-and-development/emerging-athletes


The Northern Inland Academy of Sport acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land on which we work and live. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

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