For long-term development, leadership needs to change at appropriate times, feels Palmer

For long term development, leadership needs to change at appropriate times, and there should be suitable replacements ready to sustain growth, was the candid observation of Kate Palmer, the CEO of the Australian Sports Commission.

Kate Palmer (left) and Geoff Schoenberg, sharing the Australian knowledge on sports governance with India, in New Delhi on Saturday.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

For long term development, leadership needs to change at appropriate times, and there should be suitable replacements ready to sustain growth, was the candid observation of Kate Palmer, the CEO of the Australian Sports Commission.

In Delhi for the workshop on improving Indian sport governance at the Australian High Commission, the former CEO of Netball Australia, Kate took time off from the day-long session, conducted in collaboration with the Deakin University, to talk to Sportstar on Saturday, about the principles of good governance in sports.

Talking about the commitment that she had heard towards development of sports in the country from a speech by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year, Kate conceded that “we can’t take the Australian system, and place it in India’’.

Kate stressed that India did not have many professional managers at the Olympic level.

“As a CEO, I thought I stayed too long. The organisation needs to refresh. Need to try something different. Transfer of leadership, you have to manage it well,’’ said Kate, as she looked back at her Netball career, during which time the game shot up in mass participation across Australia and tripled its revenue generation without government funding.

Geoff Schoenberg, a research fellow of the Deakin University, specifically focused on “sport governance in India’’, also shared his thoughts about leadership change, and said that it was akin to being hit by a bus’’.

Schoenberg highlighted the need to have many people qualified and ready to take over so that knowledge and experience was not restricted to one or two people, who may be hard to replace.

“We decided to change the profile of the sport. We took risks. Some paid, and some did not’’, recalled Kate about her experience in changing the profile of Netball in Australia.

Geoff insisted that he was impressed by the cases of kabaddi, football and hockey in India. He said that the key to progress was “to be open to new ideas, change, take risks and look long term.’’

Kate pointed out that the Indian women’s cricket team was an extraordinary success story and an excellent model.

She said that the Australian way of measuring success was distinct and every thing deserved to be celebrated to inspire more success.

“Bigger the base, better the top,’’ said Kate, as she highlighted the importance of giving a chance for every kid to play, and “be the best, he or she can be’’.

Kate was thrilled about the Tokyo Olympics trying to strike gender equality and said that ‘’every little girl can now aspire to play professional sport’’.

Kate was also very happy to point out that there would be equal number of medals for men and women in the Commonwealth Games to be staged in Gold Coast, Australia, in April.

“The turning point has happened. Am really excited’’, Kate said.

Having been associated with anti-doping, Kate observed that a report was expected to be ready by April on integrity in sports and that could provide further tools to fight doping, or for that matter, protect kids and girls, particularly after the “devastating’’ revelations in the US gymnastics team of a doctor’s misdeeds with hundreds of girls which eventually led him to be jailed for 60 years.

“These things are happening all over the world. In Australia, we are working on ways to prevent such things,’’ Kate said.

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