Remarks at the launch of the Australia-India Sports Partnership

12 Apr 2017
University of Mumbai, India
Prime Minister

PRIME MINISTER: Well thank you Tony, and we were just talking with Annabel Mehta and Sachin Tendulkar about Apnalaya, this wonderful foundation which is supporting kids from the slums in Mumbai and giving them the ability to reach for the skies.

This was started by your predecessor, Tony, Tom Holland in 1971. Annabel has been involved in it from the following year and, of course, Sachin is bringing his remarkable prowess, charisma and leadership to support it.

I’m delighted to be here and I want to acknowledge Mr Vijay Goel the Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports, Kate Palmer, who will be speaking to you shortly who is the Chief Executive of the Australian Sports Commission, and, of course, as I have noted, Sachin Tendulkar.

Wisden, the cricketing bible, describes Sachin as the greatest batsman after Bradman. What an extraordinary career he’s had. Took up cricket at the age of 11, played for India at the age of 16 – that is an accelerated career progression if ever there was one.

He’s described the Sydney Cricket Ground, which is in my electorate of Wentworth in Sydney, as his favourite cricket ground outside of India. And you can see why, with an average score of 157 while playing at the SCG, including that extraordinary 241 not out in 2004 and playing his last test at the SCG in 2012, which was the 100th test match played at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Sachin Tendulkar’s name, his record, his character is such a huge a part of cricketing history but above all beyond the statistics, and cricketers and cricket fans of course love statistics, it is the ultimate statistical game I suppose, but above all the leadership he showed, the character he showed, the discipline, the combination of discipline, technical skill and then extraordinary creative brilliance to get the crowd on their feet with a genius accorded to so few.

Sachin Tendulkar is one of the most remarkable sportsmen of our time as we know, but, and not everybody, everyone can aspire I suppose to be Sachin Tendulkar but not many will achieve that status, we know that. But what he’s been able to show through his character and his leadership as a cricketer, as a sportsman, as an Indian leader and statesmen, as a member of the upper house, he’s been able to give a leadership to sport right across the board.

And sport is critically important for both our countries.

We were talking about Prime Minister Modi’s determination to ensure that Indians are healthier. Obesity is a growing challenge in India as it is indeed in Australia and so activity is a vitally important part of that and starting young, and these young kids, just like their counterparts in Australia, are getting fit, getting active.

Now the other aspect of sport, and we were talking about this earlier, is the way in which it provides a social, it builds up social capital. In sporting clubs, whether it’s a cricket club or a football club or a surf club, a very Australian and very democratically Australian institution, you have people from every profession, every religion, every background mixing together. Sport ties communities together, so it’s vitally important at that level too.

Now, a central feature of our sporting heritage is our record of achievement in the Olympic Games.

We’ve competed in every Summer Olympics since 1896 and won 524 Olympic medals including 155 gold medals. And that’s been a long term endeavour.

Our sporting achievements are underpinned by robust sports administration, world class research, talent identification, athlete development, sports management and technology. And those building blocks are what India looks to as it seeks to achieve Olympic success to equal its prowess on the cricket pitch.

Prime Minister Modi is resolute in his ambition to build India’s sporting capability, to set more Indian athletes on the medal winning trail. And that’s where our two nations’ sporting competitiveness becomes collaboration off the field. 

We have experience and expertise to share. We’re a natural partner for India in the long term. 

And so today I’m pleased to launch the sports partnership between Australia and India. 

On Monday, Prime Minister Modi and I witnessed the exchange of the Memorandum of Understanding on sports between our governments.

This sets the agenda to advance cooperation in four key areas - athlete and coach training and development, sports science, sports governance and integrity, and grass roots participation. It encourages the exchange of research technology and advice, and of administrators, athletes and coaches.

An Australia-India sports partnership takes a long term view. It establishes India as a partner of choice with Australia in developing sports capability.

This partnership is underpinned by growing links around sport and allied professions through the Australian and Indian systems.

For example, Victoria University and the University of Canberra will both work with India to assist in the establishment of a national sports university.

The Australian Institute of Sport is exploring ways of supporting the Indian Commonwealth Games team in preparation for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games next year.

And it’s great to see the KOOH Sports education technology platform here today.

An Indian company lead by a distinguished Australian - a long term associate of Sachin Tendulkar, of the Indian Cricket team and here in India for thirteen years - using technology to support 200,000 students in over 200 schools to undertake the type of sporting programs and fitness and conditioning programs that we have just witnessed.

So these are great examples of what we can achieve together and I look forward to developing and strengthening the sporting bonds between our nations and I’ll now ask Kate Palmer to say a few words more about this great initiative.