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AIS announces funding boost for Victoria 2026

16 February 2023

The Australian Government and Australian Institute of Sport will invest more than $17 million in Bowls, Netball and Squash over the next four years to boost preparations for the Victoria 2026 Commonwealth Games.

The AIS will make substantial investments in Netball ($9.4m), Squash ($2.36m) and Bowls ($5.6m), with the Bowls funding to support both para and able-bodied high performance sport programs.

Australia’s Commonwealth Games sports that also compete at the Olympics and Paralympics have already secured high performance funding through to Paris 2024, giving Australian sport a strong platform for sustainable success.

Federal Minister for Sport Anika Wells said this funding would help boost sporting equality during the Green and Gold Decade and create lasting benefits for athletes and fans.

“The Victoria 2026 Commonwealth Games will take high performance sport directly to regional Australia. When you consider aspects of these Games, such as the full integration of para-sport, it’s a wonderful event to inspire and connect all Australians with sport. The Australian Government is proud to support our Aussie athletes and sports to represent our national and perform at their best,” Minister Wells said.

“It was incredible to watch our Australian athletes compete so brilliantly and top the medal tally at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, but it’s even more exciting to think Australians will get to experience all that excitement firsthand and on home soil at Victoria 2026.”

Australian Sports Commission CEO Kieren Perkins OAM said the AIS was committed to working on behalf of sport to deliver longer-term funding.

“We thank the Australian Government for their belief and confidence in us and the Australian high performance sport system to deliver meaningful results for our country,” Mr Perkins said. “There’s no doubt funding like this is crucial to helping Australian sport produce more medal-winning moments, but these sporting victories are also big winners for our nation more broadly, benefitting areas such as our economy and our physical and mental health.

“Australia’s High Performance 2032+ Sport Strategy outlines our collective plan to build sustainable success in Australian sport. Victoria 2026 is a huge milestone on our journey over this Green and Gold Decade to the Brisbane 2032 Olympics and Paralympics, and beyond.”

Australia's Ellen Ryan competing in bowls at the 2022 Commonwealth Games
Australia's Ellen Ryan at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

Commonwealth Games Australia CEO Craig Phillips AM said that confirmation of funding ensures Commonwealth sports can focus on their preparations for a home Games in just over three years.

“Victoria 2026 is a critical milestone in Australia’s High Performance 2032+ Sport Strategy and we welcome this generous funding commitment for Netball, Squash and Bowls by the Australian Government and Australian Sports Commission,” Mr Phillips said.

“For all sports, certainty in funding is what provides for appropriate planning and delivery ahead of competition on the world stage. Our hope is that this bold, early investment continues for all Victoria 2026 program sports as they strive to ensure Australia remains at the top of the medal tally in front of a home crowd.”

The investment in para and able-bodied Bowls is a 59 per cent increase on the previous cycle leading up to Birmingham 2022, with the full cycle leading up to Victoria 2026 now including a comprehensive Para program. The increase will support the sport to continue its incredible success over the last decade, which has seen Australia’s bowlers top the medal tally at the past two Commonwealth Games and win three gold and three silver medals in Birmingham.

Bowls Australia CEO Matthew Kennedy said: "The Commonwealth Games is the pinnacle multi-sport benchmark event for the sport of bowls and provides the platform for the Australian open and para Jackaroos to compete on the global stage alongside athletes from a wide scope of sports, backgrounds and beliefs, whilst more broadly providing bowls with an enormous opportunity for mainstream exposure and awareness.

"In recent years, the Jackaroos have celebrated considerable success at the Games, including the Jackaroos' best ever performance at a Games in 2018, with five gold and two silver medals from ten disciplines, and their best performance abroad in Birmingham in 2022, so this funding commitment from the AIS will go a long way to ensuring sustainable success and matching expectations for another home Commonwealth Games in 2026.”

Australian Netball Diamonds at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham
Australian Netball Diamonds at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham

The Australian Diamonds have contested every final in Commonwealth Games history and have won four gold, including in Birmingham.

Netball Australia CEO Kelly Ryan said: “Netball is the cornerstone of women’s sport in Australia and we thank the AIS for investing in the future success of the Australian Diamonds and our high performance program.

“The Australian Diamonds won gold at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, and will this year set out to regain the Netball World Cup. This important funding commitment will support netball’s continued success leading into Victoria in 2026.”

Australia's Rachael Grinham at 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham
Australia's Rachael Grinham at 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham

In Squash, Australia and England are neck-and-neck on 11 gold medals in the Commonwealth Games competition and Squash Australia CEO Robert Donaghue said the sport had big ambitions for Victoria 2026.

"Australia's squash athletes have a proud history at the Commonwealth Games, which for our sport, is the pinnacle.  Thanks to the confirmed funding support from the AIS, we will be able to invest in preparing our athletes and supporting the pathway towards another home Commonwealth Games, Victoria 2026.

"The Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games saw Australia's squash players take home two gold medals and bronze medals in the doubles events, and in 2026 we will be aiming to better those results as our athletes once again have the opportunity to compete in front of a home crowd. The success of our Australian athletes helps us to inspire more people to play our great sport, because Squash really is a sport for all."

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