The Northern Inland Academy of Sport (NIAS) is an incorporated, autonomous, community based organisation established in November 1992 to identify and prepare talented sportspeople in the Northern Inland region to reach their maximum  potential, on and off the field!

 Mission: To provide opportunities, pathways and access to skill development, Athlete and Coach support services that will develop individual potential, and support those identified talented sportspeople in making the transition to higher levels of competition and performance.

Our mission is achieved by providing talent development programs, support and activities to sport in the region. This assistance helps our athletes overcome major disadvantages compared to their city counterparts. Disadvantages include the tyranny of distance, lack of access to quality coaching on a regular basis, inadequate regular high quality competition and limited exposure to state sporting bodies.


  • Athlete and Coach support strategies
    The 5 key strategies by which the NIAS delivers sport services to the Northern Inland NSW Community are:
    • Structured Program Of Regional Talent (SPORT): Quality programs conducted in the Northern inland region of NSW in partnership with regional and state sporting bodies. Programs underpin NSWIS or other state based underpinning development programs.
    • Individual “Lonestar” Scholarship Program: Individual cash and support scholarships for high performing state and national ranked athletes who reside in the region. In 2014 8 athletes from 8 different sports were provided with scholarships.
    • Athlete subsidy and financial support scheme: Financial support to assist Academy athletes and their families defray the cost of participating in Academy programs via sponsorship from Clubs NSW North West and the NIAS. Cash support was also provided for NIAS athletes at State and National level.
    • Coach Development: Subsidies to program staff to increase their skills and attend relevant courses.
  • Administration Structure
    The Academy covers the whole of the North West of NSW from Tenterfield in the North, Ebor to the East, Coonabarabran in the West and Quirindi to the South. The Academy's administration base office is in Tamworth.  An 8 member volunteer Board oversees the running of the Academy with the day to day operations undertaken by an Executive Officer, a Sports Program Manager and a Marketing and Communications Officer.  Athletes and other key stakeholders are the focus of continuously improving practices, ensuring the most up to date and professional support is continually provided to the athletes and sports programs.
  • Marketing and Promotion
    The Academy is a community based organisation that relies on the support of the region to continue to offer increased opportunities to talented young sports people. Sponsor recognition, community servicing, fundraising events, media and public relations are integrated to ensure a consistent and professional image for the Northern Inland Academy of Sport.
  • Current Programs
    The Academy currently coordinates 11 programs, AFL, Athletics, Basketball, Cycling, Golf, Hockey (boys and girls), Netball, Rugby League, Rugby Union, Tennis and an Individual Scholarship Lone Star program to identify and support 280 athletes and 42 coaches in the North West/New England.  The Academy utilises the support network and links in with other providers of sport development to administer the programs. Coaching development pathways are provided via the NIAS and coaches are encouraged and supported to develop their skills and knowledge.  The Academy, where appropriate, ensures that sessions and activities are conducted throughout the region at various locations.




James Cooper

Chief Executive Officer

Born and bred in Tamworth James left the region for a brief period to complete University studies whilst playing representative football. James brings a wonderful optimistic energy to the team at NIAS and has an exceptional rapport with all stakeholders as he aims to bring out the best in others at every opportunity. James' commitment to offering quality programs, establishing key strategic partnerships and valuing all stakeholders has been paramount in the recent growth phase enjoyed by NIAS.


Brent Hartley

Sports Programs and Events Manager

Hailing from the heart of Gunnedah, Brent has always had a passion for sports and health. He has been heavily involved in a range of sports across the North West area both throughout his childhood, and more recently. It was only natural then that his sporting enthusiasm lead him to graduate from the university of New England with a Bachelor in Sports Management. Brent aims to use his knowledge and experience to give back to the community, not only in the north west region but beyond. 



Emmelene White

Marketing, Communications and Engagements Officer

New to the team in 2020 is Emmelene. Em has been engaged in sports from a young age and has played hockey, netball and athletics, amongst others. She has also represented NSW on numerous occasions for throwing javelin. Her love of sport and her creative mind led her to completing a Business degree with a double major in Sports Management and Marketing. After spending two years on the Gold Coast, volunteering at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and completing an internship with Squash Australia, Em has joined us in Tamworth and we are thrilled to have her at NIAS.





Robert Lewis (Board Member) 1999

Lou Daneili (Media Support) 1999

Stephen Griffith (Board Member) 1999

Kevin Anderson (Media Support) 1999

Roy Powell (Board Member) 1999

Chris Kiely (Board Member) 1999

Margaret Corbett (Netball Support) 1999

Richard Webb (Softball Head Coach) 1999

Craig Redmayne (Ruby League Head Coach) 2000

Harold Heffernan (Board Member) 2001

Bob Hickson (Board Member) 2001

Jeff AldrIdge (Touch Head Coach) 2001

Janet Mason (Netball Head Coach) 2001

Scott Dickson (Boys Soccer Head Coach) 2002

Rochelle Joyce (Netball Association Coach) 2003

Mark Golledge (Board Member) 2003

Julie Fuller (Netball Association Coach) 2004

Wally Franklin (Board Member) 2005

Gaylene Ryan (Board Director) 2006

Kim Preece (Girls Soccer Head Coach) 2006

Ruth Brock (Netball Manager) 2007

Jo Van der Vliet (Netball Head Coach) 2007

Terry Psarakis (Board Member) 2007

Phil Wheaton (Academy Support) 2012

Diane Gray (Board Member) 2019



Jason Lincoln (Chair)

Gaylene Ryan (Deputy Chair)

Terry Psarakis

Chris Ash

Diane Gray

Shona Eichorn

Nick Leyden

Michelle Morgan