Extensive Review Sees National Primary Games Discontinued
The Board of the Northern Inland Academy of Sport (NIAS) has made the difficult but necessary decision to discontinue the National Primary Games (NPG), marking the end of an era for this significant community sporting event.
The decision was made following months of consultation and an extensive review, in response to compounding challenges that have notably impacted NIAS’ capacity to conduct the event. An event that was originally established as a fundraiser for NIAS and its pathway programs, ironically over time was costing the organisation.
Chair of the NIAS Board, Mr Chris Ash, said significant challenges included a decline in volunteers, competing sports schedules, and an escalation of costs associated with conducting an event of this nature.
“We understand that the decision announced today to discontinue the National Primary Games will be very disappointing for many young athletes and families across the region and state,” Mr Ash said. “Whilst it was a brilliant community event, which for many years had a positive economic impact for the local area, it was also exceptionally time-consuming and financially exhausting for NIAS – ultimately deeming it unviable to continue.
“Foremost, a noticeable decline in the availability of volunteers due to volunteer fatigue, whose dedication and hard work have been the backbone of the event’s success over the years, was a significant factor in this decision.
“Financial considerations also weighed heavily on this decision. The costs associated with organising and conducting an event of this magnitude have escalated significantly over time.
“This has led to the inevitable conclusion that the NPG can no longer be continued. The NIAS Board hopes that the community understands that the decision was not made lightly and that every effort was made to find a way forward,” Mr Ash said.
The NPG was a multi-sport junior mass-participation event initiated by NIAS in 2015, primarily to generate revenue for NIAS programs, when the organisation was required to diversify its income at that time.
Over many years, NPG received incredible support from partners such as Macquarie Bank and Tamworth Regional Council, and more recently the Regional Australia Bank.
After a review of the Northern Inland Academy of Sport’s Strategic Plan in 2022, when it was identified that the NPG – which sat outside NIAS’s key mission, purpose, and objectives – was significantly impacting NIAS resources, a consultant was engaged to review its operations.
The Games were rested in 2023 in order to undertake the independent review, which included an extensive in-depth financial review. A number of recommendations came from this review, including the suggestion to approach NIAS key stakeholders – including sports partners and sponsors – to ascertain the feasibility of them taking on the co-ordination of the event. NIAS proceeded with this recommendation however after months of consultation, all requests were declined due to lack of resources.
The way forward
In 2024 and beyond, the small NIAS team will focus on its key mission and purpose – to identify regional talent and help talented athletes and coaches develop their potential, on and off the field – in line with all other NSW Regional Academies of Sport.
“While the discontinuation of the National Primary Games is undeniably a disappointing outcome, it is a decision made with the specific goal of long-term sustainability and success of NIAS in mind,” Mrs Eichorn said.
“More than ever, NIAS remains steadfast in its commitment to identify and develop young talented athletes in the region by providing a stairway to success through sport. NIAS will continue to focus its resources and efforts on facilitating the performance pathways, opportunities, and access for our talented regional athletes and coaches to thrive and transition to higher levels of competition and performance… which is the very reason why Regional Academies were established in the first place… to support those identified with potential on the pathway.
“We have many exciting opportunities coming to the region, which align with the core operations of a NSW Regional Academy of Sport, such as; NIAS application to host the 2025-2027 Academy Games in Tamworth (decision pending), and Tamworth announced as the location for the statewide initiative PURSU32+ Camp 3 in May 2024 – a collaboration between NSW Institute of Sport, the Office of Sport, State Sport Organisations and the NSW Regional Academies of Sport. “Whilst NIAS will not continue to conduct the NPG, should there be any organisations or people in the community interested in coordinating this event in the future, we would welcome you to contact us at the Northern Inland Academy of Sport to discuss,“ Mrs. Eichorn said.