Minister for Sport, the Hon Keith Wilson, appointed a Board of Management for a new initiative that was to be the Western Australian Institute of Sport (since more commonly know as WAIS). The inaugural Chairman of this board was Dr. Bruce Elliott.
The Institute was the third of its kind in Australia following the foundation of the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in Canberra and the South Australian Sports Institute (SASI). If Western Australian athletes wanted to train and receiving coaching at an international level they previously had no choice but to leave their friends, family and lives thousands of kilometres away and move to train at the AIS.
The Western Australian Institute of Sport was an initiative of the Burke Labor Government to provide world class services, facilities, coaching and sports science to Western Australian Sports people in their home environment.
Inaugural Director, Wally Foreman, was appointed and operations commenced. The original office was within the Department of Human Movement and Recreation Studies at the University of Western Australia (UWA).
Original staff comprised the Director and a part time secretary and the original budget was $300,000 per year from the WA Government. The budget in 2001 is more than 10 times what it was in 1984.
Personal grants were made to Western Australia’s Olympic representatives.
Programs were established in:
Gymnastics (men’s, women’s and rhythmic)
Hockey (men’s and women’s)
First full time scientist (physiologist), Steve Lawrence, was formally appointed. Steve soon became Sport Science Manager, and then took the ultimate step of becoming Director of WAIS in September 2001.
Craig Davies, himself an Olympic Hockey player, was appointed as the Program Manager. Wally, Craig and Steve remained the core staffing team of WAIS from its inception through to January 2001 when Frank Murray (an internationally experienced Australian Hockey coach) took over from Craig and Steve Lawrence took the helm from Wally.
WAIS relocated to the new WA State Sports Centre (Superdrome – now Challenge Stadium). This was a crucial development for WAIS providing much needed space and resources.
Introduction of the first two full-time coaches. Gerry Stachewicz – swimming, and Liz Chetkovich – gymnastics, were the first of many distinguished world-class coaches to work with WAIS. Liz Chetkovich remains with the Institute overseeing the WAIS gymnastics and swimming programs as gymnastics coach and program co-ordinator.
As the year developed, the first flow of Federal funds to state institutes was provided which helped to employ more coaches. This move by the Federal Government initiated the commencement of the Intensive Training Centre (ITC) program which made huge developments to sport in both Western Australia, and Australia as a whole.
Institute was by now fully established and the product of years of hard work was showing in the successes of the athletes assisted by the Institute. The commencement of the Olympic Athlete Program (OAP) was a Federal Government program designed to maximise Australia’s performance at the Sydney Olympic Games. This further enhanced Federal funding to State Institutes and led to the production of more sophisticated programs.
New WAIS facility opened. WAIS is now housed in a purpose-built, state of the art facility, over three floors, boasting sports science offices and a testing laboratory, administration offices, coaching resources and a large, fully equipped strength and conditioning gymnasium with changing rooms.
The government also significantly increased its funding to WAIS during this year. The announcement of extra funds, in addition to the medal successes of WAIS athletes at the Atlanta Olympic Games made this year one of WAIS’s most exciting yet.
A landmark year for WAIS. The Sydney Olympics had a huge impact with 45 out of 51 Western Australian athletes coming from the Institute. However, immediately following the Olympics, the then government withdrew WAIS’s funding resulting in cutbacks to programs and services.
A change of Government late in 2000 brought with it an immediate re-instatement of funding levels from pre-Olympic times, and WAIS has been working since then to re-instate programs and increase the provision of services to all sports.
In December Craig Davies, the original Program Manager, departed to be replaced by Frank Murray.
Steve Lawrence moved from his role as Sport Science Manager to become WAIS’s second-ever Director.
Wally Foreman, the founding Director of WAIS, retired and returned to sports radio broadcasting at the ABC where he had left off in 1983. Wally had remained one of ABC’s commentators in WA throughout his time at WAIS, but in September 2001, Wally decided to make the big decision to return full-time.
WAIS currently has 13 Sport Programs following the re-introduction of men and women's water polo and softball. In addition we support numerous scholarship holders in other sports.
On the staff there are 20 full-time coaches, 21 part-time coaches, 15 sport scientists, 6 admin staff and 5 management staff.