Australian sporting greats invited to mentor the next generation of stars

John Bertrand AO, Chair at Sport Australia Hall of Fame
John Bertrand AO, Chair at Sport Australia Hall of Fame

The Sport Australia Hall of Fame (SAHOF) announced the athletes selected for its 2023 Scholarship & Mentoring Program, with three Olympic gold medallists, an NBA Champion, an Australian surfing legend and a cricket great to mentor our next generation of sporting stars.

The three-tiered scholarship program, backed by the Australian Sports Commission and the Australian Institute of Sport, supports up-and-coming athletes on their journey to excellence and success on the world stage, awarding $150,000 in funding to 32 athletes each year.

Six athletes have been selected in Tier 1 and will receive $10,000 to go towards their training and competition, and one-on-one mentoring from some of the greats of Australian sport.

The Tier 1 scholarship recipients are Claire Colwill (hockey) who won a silver medal at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games; Alyssa Polites (cycling) who was part of the Australian cycling squad in Birmingham; Mackenzie Mielczarek (athletics – javelin); Max Stagg (baseball); Jesse Parkinson (snowboarding); and Stefan Elliott-Shircore (sailing).

Who are the Tier 1 athletes and their mentors?

Each Tier 1 scholarship holder will receive funding from the Sport Australia Hall of Fame (SAHOF) for 12-15 months. The SAHOF funding can be used on such things as travel, training and specialist support needed to help them reach the highest level in their chosen sport, along with unrivalled access to personal guidance from their allocated mentor.

There will be 26 more athletes receiving Tier 2 and 3 scholarships announced in the coming weeks. Tier 2 scholarships will be awarded to 10 athletes and include a $5,000 sporting expenses grant, while Tier 3 scholarships provide 16 athletes with a $2,500 sporting grant.

These six athletes have each been allocated a mentor who is a current member of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, having been inducted for success in and contribution to their sport. 2023 Sport Australia Hall of Fame: Tier 1 Scholarship holders & mentors

  • World Cup Hockey bronze medallist and Commonwealth Games silver medallist, Claire Colwill, 18, QLD (Nat Cook, two-time Olympic medallist, World and Olympic beach volleyball champion)
  • U21 European Sailing Silver Medallist and youngest commercial pilot in Australia, Stefan Elliott-Shircore, 19, WA (Steve Waugh AO, two-time ICC Cricket World Cup winner, former Australian captain and 2004 Australian of the Year)
  • Five-time National Javelin Champion and Oceania Junior Record Holder, Mackenzie Mielczarek, 19, VIC (Sharon Buchanan OAM, triple Olympian and member of Australia’s first Olympic gold medal-winning hockey team)
  • Australian Junior Snowboard Champion, Jesse Parkinson, 17, QLD (Barton Lynch, former ASP World Champion, 1991 Rip Curl Pro winner and Surfing Australia Hall of Fame Member)
  • Commonwealth Games representative and three-time National Cycling Record Holder, Alyssa Polites, 19, SA (Leisel Jones OAM, three-time Olympic and 10-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist, and one of Australia’s most successful swimmers of all time)
  • Australian Baseball League player and first Australian to receive an invitation to attend the Perfect Game National Showcase in the USA, Max Stagg, 18, SA (Luc Longley AM, three-time NBA Champion and 1989 Gaze Medallist)

What were the executives’ thoughts on the program?

Sport Australia Hall of Fame Chair and legend of Australian sport, John Bertrand AO, said: “The Scholarship and Mentoring Program shows the power of how sport unites. Our athletes having direct access to Australia’s best is priceless, and to have them paired with a mentee from a different sport is one of a kind. The program wouldn’t exist without our Members.”

“They encourage young people to excel in their performances, face their fears and share untold life stories. Luc Longley, Nat Cook, Steve Waugh, Sharon Buchanan, Barton Lynch and Leisel Jones – you couldn’t ask for better and we thank them for volunteering their time and knowledge. We welcome all 32 scholarships representing 28 sports into the 2023 program.”

The program is supported by the Australian Sports Commission and the Australian Institute of Sport. Australian Sports Commission (ASC) Chair, Josephine Sukkar AM, said the ASC was proud to support the Sport Australia Hall of Fame Scholarship & Mentoring Program. “This program has supported so many athletes, with many going on to represent Australia. To see another 32 elite young athletes recognised for talent, drive and determination is inspiring.”

“It is also pleasing to see sports like javelin, baseball and badminton represented for the first time among the 2023 scholarship holders, proving Australia’s breadth of talent when it comes to sporting success. As we enter the green-and-gold decade of major international sporting events on home soil, this financial support will no doubt provide extra incentive for young athletes to help them chase their sporting dreams,” Josephine Sukkar AM added.

“I congratulate all 2023 scholarship recipients and wish them every success with their sporting endeavours,” Josephine Sukkar AM said. Since the unique Scholarship & Mentoring Program’s inception in 2006, SAHOF has benefited 173 athletes in 53 sports. The program has been supported by 96 Mentors and has distributed more than $700,000 in funding.

Many mentor-mentee relationships remain strong;