AIA Australia joins forces with local legends Barty and Gilmore to foster youth opportunities
Insurance company AIA Australia has announced its support local sporting initiatives by making a generous donation to three tennis clubs and three surf schools in New South Wales and Victoria. World champions and AIA ambassadors, Ash Barty and Stephanie Gilmore, spearheaded this initiative, aligning their passion for sports and community wellbeing.
Both Barty and Gilmore have personal connections to community sports and wanted to give back to the places that played a pivotal role in their journeys to professional athletic excellence. The donation is aimed at creating more opportunities and fostering healthier outcomes for young individuals.
Barty won three tennis grand slam titles – the 2019 French Open, the 2021 Wimbledon title and the 2022 Australian Open – and was the No.1-ranked women’s tennis player in the world for 121 weeks before announcing her retirement from the sport last year. Gilmore ranks among the greatest surfers of all time, winning the women’s world championship on the WSL World Tour a record eight times between 2007 and 2022.
“Community sport was a huge part of my life growing up, and my positive experiences at local sporting clubs helped shape my journey as [a] professional athlete,” Barty reflected.
“It’s terrific to be able to thank these three tennis clubs for the amazing work they do in supporting young athletes from all backgrounds and to give them a financial boost to improve their resources, and I’m looking forward to seeing how these clubs will use the funds to create more opportunities and healthier communities.”
The fortunate recipients of the donation include Westside Tennis Academy (Coffs Harbour, NSW), Pottsville Beach Tennis Club (Pottsville, NSW), City Community Tennis (Surry Hills, NSW), Naru Surf Gathering (Coffs Harbour, NSW), Forster Board Riders (Forster, NSW) and Ocean Mind (Anglesea, Victoria).
These clubs have ambitious plans to enhance female and First Nations participation and improve the mental health and wellbeing of their community members. They will receive a total of $60,000 in sporting equipment donations and grants.
To celebrate this initiative, children from the selected tennis clubs and surf schools joined Barty and Gilmore in Northern NSW. They came together at the Pottsville Beach Tennis Club and had the opportunity to enjoy a surf lesson at Cabarita Beach, alongside fellow AIA ambassador Shane Crawford and representatives from AIA Australia.
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Stephanie Gilmore expressed her passion for making surf programs accessible to all individuals and lauded the efforts of Naru Surf Gatherings, Forster Board Riders and Ocean Mind in breaking down barriers to participation and promoting wellbeing.
“These are clubs whose resources are often stretched to the limit – yet they still go that extra mile to help and inspire potential athletes of tomorrow,” Gilmore said.
“From buying new surfboards to funding teaching and wellness programs, these donations are a great way to celebrate the work they’re doing.”
AIA Australia CEO Damien Mu emphasised the company’s commitment to improving physical and mental health, fostering positive social interactions, and highlighting the benefits of outdoor activities.
“At AIA Australia, we are championing Australia to be the healthiest and best protected nation in the world,” Mu said.
“We’re delighted to be able to give back to local community sporting organisations that mean so much to our inspirational AIA Ambassadors Ash Barty and Steph Gilmore.
“Whether it’s tennis or surfing, these clubs are doing an incredible job nurturing a diverse array of young people to pursue the things they enjoy, which also happen to have long-term health benefits.”