In the early 1980’s, in the backrooms of the University of Wollongong a small group of passionate sports people hatched the idea of ‘assisting young talented high performance athletes in the region’ pursue sporting glory while remaining in the Illawarra. If it wasn’t for the persistence of this group with a big vision, the Illawarra Academy of Sport may never have seen the light of day.
It has long been acknowledged that prior to the establishment of the Academy, many promising athletes did not have the opportunity to train under top level coaches all year round, and that in some cases athletes had to travel to Sydney or interstate to reach their sporting potential.
The University of Wollongong’s Human Movement & Sports Science Advisory Committee formed a ‘Steering Committee’ comprised of representatives from government, education, business and community sport from the Illawarra region to investigate the opportunities to support and develop young athletes in the area. As a result The Illawarra Institute of Sport (I.I.S) was launched in 1985, becoming Australia’s first regional Institute of Sport.
On the 3rd of December 1985 the role and activities of the I.I.S was officially launched by Dr. John Bloomfield (Chief Advisor to the Prime Minister on Sport) and Dr. John Cheffers (Executive Director of the Australian Institute of Sport).
The inaugural squad of seventy-five athletes from four sports programs including Gymnastics, Hockey, Basketball and Netball, under the direction of the Coaching Coordinators commenced training & competing in January 1986.