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About Us

Veteran Sports Australia Introduction

Veteran Sport Australia (VSA) has been established to support all veterans and their families to improve their health and general wellbeing through sport and recreation. VSA aims to provide a central hub, helping to connect people with the right opportunity for them.

The Team

Michael Hartung

Michael was previously the Chief Delivery Officer for the 2018 Invictus Games in Sydney, and a member of the 2018 Invictus Games Bid Steering Committee.

Prior to his time working on the Invictus Games, Michael spent 10 years with the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC), carrying out roles including Chief Executive Officer and General Manager, Sport.

During his decade with the APC, he held management positions on four Paralympic Teams (including Chef de Mission in 2010 and Deputy Chef de Mission in 2012).

Anne Rutlidge

Anne has been involved in sport for most of her life. A lifelong competitor and rugby tragic, she is passionate about the benefit of sport and recreation for physical and mental wellbeing.

Anne has a Master of Athletic Administration from Central Washington University; completed while coaching the university’s nationally ranked women’s varsity Rugby team.

Anne has a range of professional experience managing teams at domestic and international competitions.

Ceridwen Thomas

Ceridwen possesses broad experience working in the sports industries in United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.

Most recently she performed the roles of Games Delivery Coordinator and Sports Information Manager at the 2018 Invictus Games in Sydney, where she witnessed the positive effect sport and recreational activities can have on veterans and their families.

Rachel Kerrigan

Rachel spent seven years in Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), and saw active service as part of Operation Slipper in 2002.

Rachel knows firsthand the power of sport, selected as a competitor on the 2016 Australian Invictus Games Team to Orlando, and currently competes nationally in Powerlifting and Wheelchair Basketball.

Rachel’s professional experience includes electrical engineering, project management and contract administration. She is a qualified Powerlifting coach and CrossFit Instructor, and is currently studying a Bachelor of Exercise Physiology.

History

In 2011 RSL volunteers came together to start an adaptive sport program. They understood the importance of sport and activity to veterans’ self-esteem and physical and mental health. As veterans, they felt the benefits themselves and saw the spark in other participants.

In 2013 the program was renamed RSL Active and through regular and one-off sporting activities, it encouraged wounded and ill veterans to stay healthy through sport and connect socially with others. In the beginning, the activities were primarily in NSW.

In early 2018, the work and passion of the original volunteers - Darren McManus-Smith, Brad Copelin, Scott Seccombe and Stewart Sherman - was recognised when RSL WBI employed its first professional sport coordinator.

Encouraged by Invictus Games Sydney 2018, the program relaunched nationally on 26 October 2018 as Veteran Sport Australia.

Veteran Sport Australia’s goal is to connect more veterans to a variety of sport, support attendance at camps, and competitive events and games. It provides financial assistance to veterans unable to afford the equipment, fees and other costs of participating.

The program also supports veterans wanting to mentor or coach other veterans. Financial assistance for eligible veterans to undertake training is available.

Invictus Games

On a trip to the Warrior Games in the USA in 2013, HRH The Duke of Sussex saw first-hand how the power of sport can help physically, psychologically and socially those suffering from injuries and illness. He was inspired by his visit and the Invictus Games was born.

The word ‘invictus’ means ‘unconquered’. It embodies the fighting spirit of wounded, injured and sick Service personnel and personifies what these tenacious men and women can achieve post injury. The Games harness the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for those who serve their country.

The Invictus Games is about much more than just sport – it captures hearts, challenges minds and changes lives.

After successfully winning the bid to host the fourth Invictus Games, Sydney in October 2018 saw 500 competitors from 18 nations compete in 13 sports includin Sailing, Road Cycling, Golf, the JLR driving challenge, Swimming, Wheelchair Tennis, Wheelchair Basketball, Wheelchair Rugby, Sitting Volleyball, Powerlifting, Rowing and Athletics.

The Invictus Games was an amazing event; inspiring the Nation to support our service heroes, and to shine a light on those issues faced by many of our returned service men and women. Sport was the vehicle used to unite the community and support the rehabilitation of the competitors and their families.