There appears to be some confusion as to the role ACSA has sought to occupy within the Australian cheer sport community and we feel that a clarification of our objectives and role as well as some history as to the introduction and growth of our sport is timely.
In Australia, traditional organisation sponsored, or community recreation-based youth sports development has been undertaken by not for profit entities such as National Sporting Organizations (NSO’s) who receive considerable funding from the Federal government via the Australian Sporting Commission (ASC).
NSO’s are typically independent, self-appointed organisations that govern their sports through the common consent of their sport and have achieved a position of pre-eminence within its sport.
However, all-star cheer & dance development in Australia mimicked the USA model where it was viewed as an “activity” which was developed without any government assistance by for-profit competition event producers and for-profit club programs.
In the USA, the USASF was formed in 2003 by the event producer companies to act as a self-regulated (non-government) national governing body for all star Cheerleading whose membership and board was made up of event producers.
As many know Gymnastics Australia (GA) were the recognised National Sporting Organisation (NSO) for Cheerleading for the last 14 years but has received no support from the cheer/dance community nor been active in promoting the sport.
Australian stakeholders met with GA senior management continuosly over this period to express our frustration at the lack of leadership and involvement we felt that a true NSO for our sport should be displaying but to no avail.
The idea of forming a body such as ACSA was born out of this frustration and first formulated in 2016 after a meeting of Australian stakeholders with Gymnastics Australia (GA) CEO , Mr Mark Rendell on 25/4/16 in Florida USA. The purpose of the meeting was to clarify his viewpoints as to how he saw the GA cheer division – Australian Cheer Union (ACU) managing the sport.
Mr Rendell confirmed that they had not been able secure the assistance of the cheer community and were investigating a number of options moving forward.
This resulted in Australian stakeholders meeting with GA senior management in their Melbourne offices on 11/8/16 to discuss that as the sport of All Star Cheer & Dance continued to grow and prosper in Australia, there are a number of factors to be considered as to how this is best managed and that the stakeholders are given every possible opportunity to continue to drive this growth.
We confirmed that after many discussions with all representatives from the Australian cheerleading & dance community who have a vested interested in our sport, the consensus is that after this length of time it is too late for GA to try and be actively involved with the governance of our sport and whose operation is so vastly different than their member-based gymnastics model.
We advised that it would be in GA/ACU’s best interest to realise that the time to be involved with the sport of cheerleading & dance has passed, and to resign the ASC recognition so that that the sport can be administered by an organisation that is supported and valued by its community and who will be able to support the needs of the Australian cheerleading & dance market and growth of the sport.
ACSA was then formed as a Peak Body to provide a national & international voice and leadership forum for All Star Cheer & Dance in Australia.
It was made clear that the objective and constitution of ACSA was as a Peak Body formed to stimulate, encourage and promote the sport within Australia, and to uphold the interests of coaches, gym owners, athletes and event producers.
It should be clear that when ACSA was formed its resulting constitution was as a PEAK BODY and not as an NSO as GA were already the recognised NSO for Cheer – as a result our initial efforts were to work with the ICU to support team Australia next year and to achieve governing body recognition sometime after that.
Of priority for ACSA was:
- Promoting our sport to the wider community and foster growth within our grassroot initiatives & encourage and develop the growth of performance cheer & dance programs.
- Establishing standardised rules, safety guidelines and competition standards.
- Effective representation and lobbying of our industry & government affairs.
- Establish a training curriculum and accreditation process for coaches and judges. ACSA will aim for these programs to be certified and they will be based on the current Industry standard accreditation. It will facilitate IASF accreditation for coaches with teams travelling internationally.
- Identify further priorities and establish sub-committees as necessary to address.
As a result of the formation of ACSA, GA elected in July 2017 to undertake a comprehensive review of Cheerleading and its role within Gymnastics Australia.
In the interim in October 2017, GA appointed a new CEO, Ms Kitty Chiller, whom Australian stakeholders immediately initiated discussions with as to the future of GA’s involvement with cheerleading with some favourable responses.
The GA review was finalised under Ms Chiller with the result that the GA Board formally advising that as of the 12th December 2017 they decided to cease to be the national governing body of Cheerleading in Australia. In addition, GA notified the International Cheer Union (ICU), the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) and the Australian Olympic Committee of this decision on January 17, 2018.
Since that time ACSA has been in discussions with the ICU and SA to, firstly, ensure that our best Australian teams are represented at 2019 ICU Worlds as with GA exiting as the NSO and ICU member at the end of 2018 and advising that they will have no part in the 2019 ICU World Championship National Team selection we were seeking approval to move forward with formulating Team Australia Cheer & Dance teams & secondly, continue to work with SA and ICU in seeking clarification as to how ACSA can transition from a Peak Body to NSO ( As ACSA’s existing constitution was non-compliant as was formed for a Peak Body rather than an NSO).
ACSA has been in discussions with the ICU that we felt that the "federated" model will just not work for where cheer is currently in Australia as we are still a relatively small sport which requires a streamlined governance model to ensure continued growth & participation.
At this stage of our development Australia does not have the resources (staffing/financial) to create a duplication of entities/resources trying to achieve similar objectives.
We sought to find a balance where the ICU objectives are met and we can meet our objectives in a manner where there was minimal intrusion and not create barriers for our small sport to progress.
We pointed out that the ASC have issued many directions on the future of Sports Governance and ACSA wished to not only align any new NSO constitution within these guidelines but also what is appropriate for where our fledgling sport is at this point of time.
It needs to be acknowledged that Australia cheersport has a history and culture not aligned with traditional sporting implementation and growth. As previously advised Australia does not have any geographical or in any other capacity, State Sports Authorities (or SSO’s), Provincial nor State Federations involved, responsible or delivering cheer or performance cheer.
It was our view that we were wanting to work with the ICU and SA on formulating a new NSO Constitution but would be based on a "Unitary" (centralised) model as suggested by the ASC as in their GOVERANCE REFORM DISCUSSION PAPER they submitted:
A federated governance structure, as discussed earlier, typically originated from the historical context where a NSO focused on the management of national teams and liaising with international federations. The business model supporting the structure is characterised by state member associations, each with their own board of directors, operating as separate businesses. Focusing on the sport, the traditional federated structure creates layers of administration and management. Each layer has its own relationships, investment, workforce development and service delivery. The structure leads to duplication in strategic planning, reporting, financial management, marketing and commercialisation and therefore many inefficiencies for the entire sport. Such inefficiencies often impact on a sport’s ability to generate enough revenues to be a sustainable business.
Sports need an alternative to this arrangement to maximise already limited human and financial resources.
The unified model of governance is arguably the ideal structure for a sport with fully aligned stakeholders throughout its system. This structure removes the governance inefficiencies present in the federated structure and retains the one management efficiencies, delivering substantial advantages in strategic direction and operational implementation. Each state member association operates as a branch of the single governing body and state committees play an advisory consultative role providing the NSO and its state officers critical local guidance. The structure adopts a unified management model where finances and other services are centrally pooled.
In summary, ACSA is committed to its primary goal of representing the Australian cheer community and its interests by:
- Continuing to seek to ensure that our best Australian teams are represented at 2019 ICU Worlds
- Continuing to work with SA and ICU in seeking clarification as to how ACSA can transition from a Peak Body to NSO.
ACSA have a meeting with Sport Australia to discuss these matters this afternoon (TUESDAY 11/12/18) and as we have more information, we will communicate this to the Australian stakeholders and community.