The success of national sporting systems depends on the effectiveness of its component parts. In Australia and many countries with similar sports systems these are the national and state/regional sporting organisations through which sport is developed and promoted domestically and athletes are groomed for international competition.

This paper seeks to identify the factors essential for the effectiveness of those organisations. It takes as a model a major sports research paper released in 2015. Entitled Successful Elite Sports Policies: An International Comparison of Elite Sport Policies in 15 Nations, this paper identified policy factors leading to national sporting success in the international arena by the countries covered, based on placings over a number of Olympic Games.

It is now known as the SPLISS study. Based on extensive research over the 15 nations examined, the study concluded there were nine essential pillars supported by 138 critical success factors leading to a nation’s sporting success. Australia ranked highly in meeting these factors, aligned with its success in international sport in recent years. National sporting organisations vary greatly in terms of size, funding and popularity.

There are nevertheless certain principles contributing to success applicable to all. Like the SPLISS model, nine central pillars that contribute to an effective national sports organisation are identified, being finance support; governance, management and culture; program operations; talent identification and development; athlete welfare; training facilities; coaching; competition; and sports sciences. Critical success factors are identified under each pillar.

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About the author: Jim Ferguson
Ferguson held senior Australian Government positions including from 1986 to 1990, the Head of the Tourism and Sport Division, Commonwealth Department of Arts, Sport, the Environment and Tourism. In this role, Ferguson was involved in completing the merger between the ASC and the AIS. Ferguson took over after the Hawke and Keating Government’s made significant increases into sports funding through the Maintain the Momentum and Olympic and Paralympic Preparation Programs. Ferguson held the position of Executive Director of the Australian Sports Commission from 1990-2000.