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How La Trobe University is developing tomorrow’s sporting legends

With the sounds of the closing ceremony of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio still ringing in our ears, La Trobe University has started work on a new Sports Park in Melbourne’s north that will transform the university’s sporting facilities in a true Olympic tradition of “faster, higher, stronger”.

La Trobe has a long and proud history with the Olympic Games with both students and alumni selected to be part of the competing and sports medical teams over recent years. That includes three athletes for the Rio Olympics and other famous Olympians in Games past such as Samuel Beltz (rowing), Rachel Imison (hockey), Tamsyn Manou (athletics) and Warwick Draper (kayak). La Trobe will also send 20 athletes to other international competitions this year alone.

Sport in Australia

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers (pwc) the Australian sports industry is worth over $15.5 billion and expected to increase by AU$2 billion over the next five years. This is a staggering figure for a relatively small nation and when compared to IBIS World’s estimation that the global sports industry is estimated at approximately US$145 billion.

However there has long been a wide popularity for sport in Australia. Pwc listed the new deal between Toyota and the Australian Football League for A$8 million annually as the largest single sponsorship deal in the Asia-Pacific.

Sporting events in Australia are regularly sold out – the ‘Ashes’ cricket test matches between England and Australia being one that springs to mind with stadiums at capacity. The rewarding commercial side of the business is also one La Trobe has already worked at with partners including Melbourne City Football Club, the AFL Players’ Association, and Carlton Football Club.


Image courtesy of La Trobe University

La Trobe’s Sporting Links

La Trobe University is one of Australia’s best higher education providers and has long desired to become the preferred university for sport studies, sport research, sport performance and participation, as well as industry collaboration for innovation in sport.

The 60 hectare park in Bundoora is an excellent example of doing that. The sports that will feature in the sports park are ones Australia has historically proven itself in; the nation has medalled consistently in hockey, cricket, Rugby League, Rugby Union and netball at major international tournaments including the Olympics and the World Cup.

Leading into the 2016 Olympics there was a surge of locals being drafted in the NBA even though the Australian basketball team is yet to medal on the international stage. There is also increasing interest in the FIFA World Cup in Australia’s sports-mad population with improving results for the Socceroos on the world stage.

La Trobe currently has more than 100 studies registered in the program in 36 different sports and studying in a variety of courses from undergraduate to Master’s and PhD.

The Sports Park Project

The construction of the $150 million staged three-year Sports Park project will start later this year on its Melbourne Campus, as part of the university’s continued commitment to sporting excellence in order to produce tomorrow’s sporting legends.


Image courtesy of La Trobe University

Designs feature an eight-court indoor multisport stadium for netball and basketball, a strength and conditioning training facility, a world-class teaching and research area, synthetic hockey and soccer pitches and upgrades to existing ovals and pavilions. These were reached after an extensive 12 month consultation between local and state governments, and sporting organisations.

La Trobe’s new facilities will make it an ideal place for study and participation in sport, and local football, netball, cricket, basketball, baseball, soccer, touch football, hockey and several other local sporting clubs will all benefit. These developments and the connections with elite sporting organisations are contributing to the sports world from the grassroots up.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor John Dewar said development of the sports park “will allow community participation in sport and physical activity alongside elite athlete programs, and foster collaboration between university students, world-class sport researchers and the sport industry”.

The Sports Park will also develop links between high performance sport and the teaching and research capacity of the university. La Trobe launched a Sport and Exercise Medicine Research Centre this year on-campus, designed to conduct world-class research into sport and exercise medicine. They also have an elite athlete program developed to support students who participate or compete at an elite level. Support is given to them through the LEAP program to provide grant money, apparel, gym membership and access to sports facilities, and academic case management assistance if required.

The Future


Image courtesy of La Trobe University

The fully integrated approach to community and elite sport user groups through this Sports Park is not only a first in Australia but an excellent way of growing tomorrow’s sporting legends. It could also see the next Cathy Freeman or Sally Pearson take to the track, another Andrew Gaze shooting hoops in newly developed basketball courts or the next Tim Cahill on the football field.

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Feature image courtesy of Braden Collum