The latest decision by our own illustrious governing body, Cycling Australia gives me a sense of a few tiny baby steps forward, followed by a leap back.
I read stories earlier this week of Cycling Australia’s decision to suspend the women’s road development program in Europe indefinitely. From all reports it was a financial decision but it seems pretty short-sighted to me.
The always eloquent Bridie O’Donnell has written a blog post that summarises the whole issue very well so I won’t paraphrase it here. Read it in full for the inside story.
Bridie concludes in detailed piece…”Our development program was world class a decade ago. Six years ago it was identifying riders who are now racing professionally and placing in championship events.
So why now, with more female Cycling Australia memberships than ever before, is the combination of increased available talent, greater interest in the sport, yet the same coaching staff now deemed unworthy of funding?
Certainly that will require a further exploration of whether the responsibility of ‘underperformance’ lies with the athletes, inappropriately selected; with the coaching staff, overtraining or inadequately managing their athletes; with administrators demonstrating outdated opinions; or some unquantifiable combination of the above.
Whatever the reasoning, it seems a far cry from the global attitude to women’s cycling and the need for our country to capitalise on the rapid growth, enthusiasm and ability of its female riders.”
Bridie makes some interesting points about Cycling Australia being run more like a business, and while I agree that a sporting body should be ‘business-like’, it is not a business per se, and should therefore take a different approach than a tradition business with shareholders.
Monique Hanley of Cycling Victoria said of the decision on Twitter “This already has, and will continue to have, a huge impact on #womenscycling in Australia.”
Female pro cyclist Peta Mullens also on Twitter said “CA cut Women’s program, not the U23 Men & claim it’s not discrimination? Men go pro straight from NRS while women don’t.”
As a member of Cycling Australia, I’d like to see my membership dollars being spent on women’s development, as well as many other areas. Let’s hope when they finish all their budget slashing, they find a little slush fund that they can direct to women’s cycling development.