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Beyond the Bale : December 2011
Shearing might not be an Olympic sport (yet), but there's no doubt that the top shearers have as much skill, fitness and stamina as most Olympic athletes. And shearing competitions are certainly more entertaining than a lot of Olympic sports such as synchronized swimming! While getting Olympic status for shearing is not on AWI's agenda, AWI is providing increased support for shearing and woolhandling competitions across the country. The main aims are to promote excellence within the shearing industry, and to encourage young people to join the industry. Support is being provided to local and regional competitions that are affiliated with, or offer a clear pathway to, the state and national competitions conducted by Sports Shear Australia Association -- the internationally recognised body representing shearing industry competitions in Australia. About 40-50 competitions take place across Australia each year, with over 90 per cent affiliated (directly or indirectly) with Sports Shear. AWI program manager for shearing and industry development Ian Evans says AWI is keen to raise the profile and status of the shearing industry by enabling participation in well conducted shearing and woolhandling competitions. "Competitions help encourage better techniques in shearing and woolhandling, which is for the benefit of the wool- growing industry from which they derive. AWI's support aims to encourage a quality workforce, an interest in wool, and an appreciation of the art and skill of shearers and woolhandlers. "We aim to promote shearing by identifying and celebrating shearers and woolhandlers who excel at their chosen profession and then promote them as role models. We also want to ensure that future champions are identified early and supported in their development. "AWI's financial support for competitions, which is in the range of $2000-3000 per competition, will make a significant impact on the viability of many competitions. Some of the larger and more widely recognised competitions could receive a higher level of support." In addition to supporting local and regional competitions, AWI is also providing support to competitions at a state and national level. AWI this year provided resources to help the selection and development of all six state representative teams, and helped them attend the National Championships in Perth in October. A national team was selected at this event to represent Australia at the 2012 Golden Shears World Championships at Masterton, New Zealand (see opposite). AWI is also supporting competition judges by providing resources for them to judge at national and international events, plus attend a development workshop held in conjunction with the National Championships. Ian says AWI ultimately wants to increase the profile of shearing competitions to a much larger audience. "We want to present shearing and woolhandling competitions as an entertaining sport and provide the general public with a better understanding of the industry. In other countries, such as New Zealand, shearing and woolhandling competitions feature alongside 'high profile' professional sports like rugby union, golf, rugby league and motor sports. "We want to encourage a similar profile here in Australia. Maybe one day, the performances of the likes of Shannon Warnest will be replacing those of Darren Lockyer and Mike Hussey on the back page of the newspaper!" More information: www.wool.com/harvest FAST FACTS lAWI is providing support to shearing competitions at local, state and national levels. l The aim is promote excellence and encourage better techniques in shearing and woolhandling. l AWI support is helping enable Australia's best shearers, woolhandlers and judges to represent their country in international competitions. Competitions promote excellence December 2011 BEYOND THE BALE 18 ON-FARM Shearers at the shearing and woolhandling competition, supported by AWI, at September's Canowindra Show, NSW. Tri-Nation shearing event involving Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, sponsored by AWI, at the Perth Royal Show in October.