Coaches silent heroes behind success in sport and life

War correspondent Michael Ware has urged Australia’s high performances coaches and leaders to find the best in themselves to help draw out the “extraordinary” in their athletes, in his opening keynote address to the World Class to World Best Conference at the AIS.

Ware, a former Queensland rugby union player turned journalist, is internationally acclaimed for his work during the Iraq War and shared stories of leadership he’d witnessed during combat.

Ware told almost 250 coaches, leaders and high performance sport personnel at the World Class to World Best conference they were “silent heroes” behind success and had a “sacred charge” to not just lead athletes, but lead lives.

“I think it’s a sacred charge you have guiding young men and women to strive,” Ware said.

“Leadership is about life too, not just training these people to excel at a sport. I think our real job is building them as people. From that, we might find athletic success and greatness.

“You’re the ones who help those under your command find the best in themselves, that’s where extraordinary comes from …To lead people like that, to find that hidden dimension within themselves, I believe we need to find our better selves. The onus is on us to be constantly finding the very best we are to help lead – that’s one of the hardest parts of leadership.”

The first day of the annual World Class to World Best conference also included a presentation from Commonwealth Games Australia (CGA) on the success of the 2018 Games on the Gold Coast. CGA CEO Craig Phillips and General Manager Tim Mahon said a survey of athletes after the Game had revealed “team” was the overwhelming word to summarise their experience.

“The interesting thing is that we at no point in the lead up to the Games used the term one team, we respected we had 18 different sports, all with their unique team values and cultures … but the feedback we got is they felt part of one bigger team,” Phillips said.

Mahon said the team spirit had been built with collaboration of Australia’s high performance system.

“The most important thing out of all of this is that system when it works together makes a significant difference, we are greater together,” Mahon said.

To come on Day 2 – Thursday, November 8:

· Japan Sports Council on preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics;

· A keynote from Tasneem Memon, entrepreneur and artificial intelligence expert

· John Atkinson, Performance Director of Swimming Canada,

· Danny Holdcroft, Head of Performance for Olympic gold medal-winning British Skeleton Program.

About 250 high performance sport personnel from around Australia and the world are attending the World Class to World Best conference, hosted at the AIS in Canberra from November 7-9. The theme of this year’s World Class to World Best conference is Converting When It Matters.

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