UniSport 100

Celebrating 100 years of UniSport in 2021

UniSport Australia (UniSport) is delighted to be celebrating our 100th anniversary in 2021.

UniSport dates our history to 1921 when Sydney University Sports Union, Melbourne University Sports Union, Adelaide University Sports Union and University of Queensland Sports Union established the Australian University Sports Association (AUSA). The objectives of the association were to manage inter-university and special university contests, to determine the eligibility of teams and to manage any matter affecting university sport in which more than one university was interested. Now called UniSport Australia, we have grown to represent 43 tertiary institution members across Australia.

 

Some of the early contested sports included athletics, baseball, boat races, boxing, cricket, Australian Rules football, rugby, golf, hockey, lacrosse, rifle shooting, swimming, water polo and tennis. Women’s competitions existed in basketball, hockey and tennis. Today, UniSport offers more than 40 sports in the Nationals and Leagues programs, with competitions offered in men’s, women’s, mixed and open categories.

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In 1967, Australia became an International Federation of University Sport (FISU) Member Association, and to this day remains an active member and participant in FISU programs. There have been four World University Championships hosted in Australia; windsurfing (Wollongong, 1994), table tennis (Geelong, 1996), squash (Melbourne, 2010) and sailing (Perth, 2016). 

 

The Australian UniRoos are the team of student-athletes who compete internationally. Since 1959, Australia has been represented by 3,037 athletes and officials at the FISU Summer World University Games and 292 at the Winter World University Games.

In 2021, many student-athletes will fulfil their Olympic dream when they compete in Tokyo. UniSport works closely with university elite athlete programs to support student-athletes as they strive for national, Commonwealth Games and Olympic representation. Olympic medalists Matt Denny (athletics), Cate Campbell (swimming) and Catherine Skinner (shooting) are just a few of the outstanding student-athletes who have combined a successful sporting career with university study, achieving great sporting and academic feats. 

Following a merger of AUSA and Australian Tertiary Education Sports Association (ATESA), the Australian Universities Sports Federation Inc. (AUSF) was formed in 1992.

 

The first elected Board of Directors included Ann Mitchell, OAM (President), Paul Manning (University of Wollongong), Doug Ellis (Monash University), Bruce Meakins (The University of Western Australia), Paul Brooks (Queensland University of Technology) and Hugh McKechnie (La Trobe University). In 1998, AUSF’s headquarters relocated from Sydney to Brisbane, where UniSport's head office still resides. 

At the 1999 AGM, it was resolved to amend AUSF Inc. to Australian University Sport Inc. (AUS) and adopt a unified governance structure. With the introduction of the Voluntary Student Unionism legislation in 2006, AUS received $10 million in Regional Universities Development funding over four years to offset the impact of VSU. In 2011, the Australian Parliament passed legislation allowing universities to charge a Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF), to fund amenities such as sporting facilities, providing some relief to universities.

 

The 2011 AGM approved the migration to a company limited by guarantee and a shifted responsibility for membership from sport delivery agents to universities.

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In 1993, the first Australian University Games (AUGs) were hosted in Brisbane. The games, Australia’s largest annual multi-sport competition, were held for 25 years, with events hosted in every state and territory (except Tasmania), culminating in its final edition in 2017 on the Gold Coast. 2015 Gold Coast was its largest year with more than 8,000 students competing across 32 sports.

The most recent change for the organisation was in 2018 when AUS re-branded as UniSport Australia. This coincided with the launch of the Nationals program; comprising of the flagship event, Nationals Div 1 and Div 2 as well as a number of standalone Nationals Championship events held throughout the year. In 2021, the third year of Nationals will be hosted on the Gold Coast, attracting more than 7,000 participants from all 43 member universities to compete in over 30 sports. 

 

Another key milestone in the 2021 calendar, will be the 25th anniversary of the Indigenous Nationals. The National Indigenous Tertiary Education Student Games (NITESG) began in 1996 as a class project between 13 students enrolled at the Wollotuka Institute at The University of Newcastle. The event now referred to as the Indigenous Nationals will return to its birthplace at the Wollotuka Institute in 2021 and will welcome more than 30 universities from across Australia in a week-long celebration of sport, Indigenous culture and heritage.

In 2021 UniSport will launch the University Basketball League (UBL)

The UBL is endorsed by Basketball Australia and supported by the eight participating universities. The men's and women's teams will play in home and away fixtures with each participating university having the opportunity to host matches on campus. All matches will be livestreamed.

Since 2017, UniSport has also been a partner of the Aon Women's Uni 7s Series - the pinnacle women's rugby 7s competition in Australia offering the nation's rising talent the opportunity to train and play in a high-performance environment and be considered for national selection. 

In 2021, UniSport will deliver an expanded UniMoves program - a wellbeing initiative promoting active students and staff on campus. Now in its second year, this will be rolled out at 15 universities across Australia. 

UniSport's Chief Executive Officer, Mark Sinderberry commented: "The extensive program of UniSport events underpins our vision of Active Students: Lifelong Success. UniSport continues to demonstrate the value of sport through evidence-based advocacy - showing the positive impact that sport and recreation can have on the university pillars of recruitment, retention and engagement and alumni programs." 

UniSport could not have achieved our longevity and continued growth without the talent and energy of our 43 member universities. In 2021, we will continue to engage with our members through working groups, webinars, forums and networking events. 

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UniSport will celebrate our first centenary with a number of activities across the year including a gala dinner at the National Conference in Sydney on 11 May and the UniSport Centenary Ball  on 1 October at the Gold Coast following the conclusion of Nationals.

UniSport want to hear from you!

We invite all past and present students, athletes, volunteers, officials, university members Board, committees, life members, sporting organisations, corporate and government partners, and staff to contribute to our 100-year celebrations.

 

If you have any specific sporting achievements, memories, people to acknowledge or memorabilia to share, we'd love to see it! Please email admin@unisport.com.au.

We thank you for being an important part of UniSport and for helping us reach 100 years. We look forward to celebrating with you.