Influence sported at all levels

INFLUENTIAL people in sport are more than just star players or star coaches.

They are people who affect the future of sport in the State through their influence on Government, business and the community.

Ron Alexander is best known as an Australian Rules player and coach of the West Coast Eagles in their early days but he is now director general of the Department of Sport and Recreation.

He is considered close to Sport and Recreation Minister Alan Carpenter and has championed the cause of his favourite football code.

Test cricketers Adam Gilchrist and Justin Langer are the leading lights in the WA cricket scene and when they speak, people take notice.

Another influential figure is cricket legend Dennis Lillee, whose opinions are widely sought after and treated with great respect.

On the football scene, nobody in WA is more widely respected than West Coast Eagles coach and former champion player John Worsfold.

The influence of star football coaches was highlighted a few years ago when then Eagles coach Mick Malthouse made front-page news with his opposition to logging in old growth forests.

Worsfold has not spoken out in such a controversial manner, which has probably served to strengthen his reputation.

Eagles chief executive Trevor Nisbett also has significant influence on the local football scene.

It is worth noting that being the coach or CEO of a major sporting club does not automatically bring influence.

This can be illustrated by comparing the Eagles camp with their Dockers’ counterparts, Chris Connolly and Cameron Schwab, who are new to Perth and yet to achieve success.

They will have to change both criteria before qualifying for inclusion on this list.

With the team placed in the eight, the next ten rounds could really tell the tale there.

Luc Longley is an influential figure based on his track record as a champion player with the Chicago Bulls, his substantial wealth and his co-ownership of the Perth Wildcats.

Last but not least is Ric Charlesworth. As a coach he guided Australia’s women’s hockey teams to repeated gold medal winning success over many years. As a player he led the Australian men’s hockey team success and as a cricketer he was a champion State player.

Mr Charlesworth has also been a Federal MP and is widely respected for his expertise and achievements.

Other people who were contenders for inclusion on the list included some of Perth’s well-known sports commentators, such as Channel Seven’s Dennis Commetti, ABC’s Wally Foreman and The West Australian’s sports editor Ray Wilson.

Perth Glory co-owner Nick Tana was another possible inclusion, but he gets a run on the private business list anyway.

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