Monday, July 15, 2024

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HomeIssue 28Fear Masters Games will fade

Fear Masters Games will fade


Lauren Moss, Minister for Tourism, and Sport made an announcement this morning that the 2022 Alice Springs Masters Games will be cancelled and rescheduled for 2023.

This came as a surprise and shock to many but was not unexpected for me given that we were already so far behind in our planning and preparation schedule for the games.

Normally registrations will open on the date one year before the games are due. To get to this point, each sport is required to engage in a lot of planning and preparation – fee structures, budgets, event schedule, plus other formal documents need to be addressed by the clubs.

Given none of this has happened, it was pretty obvious to me what the decision was going to be.

And we can only surmise why we have arrived at this point.

The Minister cited two main reasons for deciding not to go ahead with the 2022 Games (as compared to Red Centre Nats and Parrtjima).

The first was the uncertainty about Covid and it particular its impact on team sports.

I don’t understand this reason – already two other Masters Games events are scheduled for 2022 – The Australian Masters Games in Perth (23 – 30 April) and the SA Masters Games (7 – 11 April). The Australian Masters Games were scheduled for October 2021, but because of the WA State borders being closed, they were postponed to April 2022.

Obviously both these States do not share the same view about the Covid risks as the NT Government. They haven’t had the concerns about getting sponsorships as the Minister raised. In 12 months’ time we are all going to be living with Covid, so surely we must start making decisions with that knowledge and certainty.

Another reason the Minister referred to was we now have the chance to revitalise the games.

Well we have already done planning for that. 12 months ago after the 2020 Games were cancelled a workshop was scheduled precisely for that reason. A lady from interstate was contracted to facilitate the process. Each sport gave input and a workshop was held. Great ideas were presented and a report was prepared. Not sure what happened to that?

The biggest concern I have is it will be five years between Games if they are held in 2023.

We miss a golden opportunity by now holding them in 2022 as we are told that when borders are open and Covid restrictions eased, then local tourism will boom. People will not be travelling overseas as in the past.

Potentially a 2022 ASMG could have seen participant numbers reaching levels we haven’t seen in many years. Now that is an opportunity wasted.

Another issue is that by moving to 2023, we will be in direct opposition to the Australian Masters Games – a multi-sport and team structure like the ASMG but with over twice as many participants.

These Games in 2023 will be held in South Australia and you would expect they will be very appealing to many who might also be thinking about Alice Springs. Certainly they will be cheaper and easier to access.

Up to now these two major Masters Games events have not directly competed against each other because they have been held in different years. I wonder what the Minister is thinking after 2023.

Do we then revert to the even years (2024) or stay in the odd years which have been the domain of the Australian Masters Games.

If we chose 2024, then that would mean two ASMG in two years which will be very difficult because holding the ASMG requires enormous volunteer support.

So in my mind this decision (to postpone the ASMG to 2023) has been made without a full awareness of many important matters that impact on the Games. There is a very real likelihood it is a decision that will lead to the gradual fading away of the ASMG.

Certainly it is going to take a lot of Government money in promotion and administrative support to make up for this unnecessary pushing of the Games back to 2023.

John Bermingham, Sports Coordinator Road and XC ASMG 2012 – 2018.


UPDATED 2.30pm: Independent Member for Araluen, Robyn Lambley, says if if the games proceed in 2023 it will be five years since the last were held in Alice Springs. This is not good enough.

Alice people are now feeling the effects of a Darwin-centric Government that is in debt up to their eyeballs. No National Aboriginal Art Gallery. No Masters Games.

This is a lethal blow to an already struggling tourism industry in Central Australia, says Ms Lambley.


  1. Wrong minister, it wasn’t Lauren Moss who made this announcement [sorry – ED].
    Natasha Fyles is the Minister for Tourism and Hospitality, and the Minister for Major Events.
    Question I’ve got is why it’s claimed to be so difficult to organise the Masters’ Games 11 months from now?
    The first indication of what became known as the Alice Springs Masters Games was published in the Centralian Advocate on 20 November 1985, when the Minister for Youth, Sport and Recreation, and Ethnic Affairs, Ray Hanrahan, stated “he was also considering a national veterans’ games at Alice Springs in October next year”.
    And that’s what happened – the first Central Australia Masters Games officially commenced on 18 October 1986, just 11 months after it was first publicly mooted.
    Within that 11 month period there was a lot of disruption experienced within the NT Government, including the resignation of Chief Minister Ian Tuxworth and his replacement by Steve Hatton, with two associated ministerial reshuffles as I recall.
    Responsibility for the inaugural Masters Games fell to new Darwin-based Minister Don Dale, which became his favourite task out of all his portfolio responsibilities in the next few years.
    Despite all the political drama of that year, the original Masters Games proceeded as originally announced and proved to be a great success.
    But now it’s apparently too hard for a Darwin-based minister to repeat that success of 36 years ago.

  2. Ray Hanrahan was a really likeable lad when he worked in NTA District Office in Hartley Street in the late 1960s early 1970s.
    He was a Rovers lad as were the other lads who worked in the Accounts and CPM section. Bob Keast, Paul Bomford, Porky Morgan and Streaky Pomfret.
    All local men of the people who loved and understood sport in Alice. Ray went into politics and initiated the Honda Masters Games, a great initiative which flourished under Ray and other Alicians such as John Dermody and a great group of sporting lads and lassies who had the town’s best interests at heart.
    However, it was inevitable when sport is controlled by government and its centralised bureaucrats, that great initiatives tend to end badly. Australia’s prime example of this was the demise of the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra.
    The AIS was the world leader in cutting edge elite sports development in the 1990s. During that same period, the Alice Honda Masters Games was Australia’s shining example of how a town of 30,000 was at the cutting edge of veteran sport, not only in Australia, but around the world.
    In 2021, the AIS is a burnt out shell, gutted by government and its bureaucratic ineptitude. Soon to be carved up and sold off.
    Sadly, all the signs are there that the Alice Games are facing a similar fate. That’s what happens when government takes sport out of the hands of the townspeople who made it great.

  3. Couldn’t agree more JB, it will be overtaken by the return of the Arafura Games which Gunner has been angling on for a long time. Vale ASMG.

  4. If there’s a conflict between Adelaide and Alice with regards to the games’ timing I would say (as a masters track athlete) that Adelaide will win out simply because of the professionalism of a games with big city venues and experienced volunteer staff.
    I loved competing at Alice in so many events in 2008 – but I was a serious enough athlete to’d have rather run a 12.8e 100m time in Adelaide compared to my 13.8 hand time on an uneven surface with extra long grass in Alice.
    The low keyed-ness (like having part of the perimeter fence removed so we could long jump) was fun but the events in Alice didn’t clash with a “serious” competition.
    Many “I’ll give it a go”ers may disagree but they are there for different reasons to those who train for results. Just my thoughts!
    Ps: I would very much like to do Alice Springs games again.


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