AusCycling poach Netball Australia CEO to lead cycling’s new beginning

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Australia's netball boss has been poached by cycling to head up the sport's new and amalgamated governing body following a sweeping restructure, which brought 16 separate state and disciplinary-specific organisations under the one banner.

Marne Fechner, the current CEO of Netball Australia, will soon become AusCycling CEO. Credit:Getty Images

Netball Australia chief executive Marne Fechner will leave her role at the end of the year after decades as an administrator in the sport to become AusCycling's inaugural chief executive officer in February 2021.

AusCycling only recently formally completed its restructure, which meant state and disciplinary based bodies for road cycling, track cycling, BMX riding, para-cycling and mountain biking are all governed by the one organisation.

Fechner told The Age and Sydney Morning Herald that the chance to helm such an ambitious re-thinking of a sport's structure was too good an opportunity to pass up.

"When you sit back and look at cycling in the context of the broader sporting landscape in Australia it [the decision to join] is about alignment in my values and purpose. Why I love being involved in sport and why I lead sport," she said.

"There’s a very proud heritage of success at the elite level and we’ve all watched and celebrated that.



"The fact that millions of Australians enjoy cycling – and not because they want to be elite athletes – because it forms part of their healthy pass time, is another one."

Fechner was appointed to the top job at Netball Australia in 2017 and saw the game through the start of the Super Netball in 2018 and this year’s coronavirus pandemic.

She worked her way up from marketing manager at Netball Victoria in 1997, through to roles at national level as head of commercial before taking the lead role. She was also in charge of the 2015 Netball World Cup as its chief executive.

Fechner described the decision for the sport to come together as it has – following years of organisational and administrative difficulties associated with having so many separate entities – as a brave one.

"It removes a number of barriers and challenges that a number of sports in this country face," Fechner said.

"It is a brave decision; there aren’t a lot of sports that are walking down this path.

"All the boards and organisations, they have been in service of the best interests of their sport and made a really bold decision to think about the future.

"Maybe what served us for the last 80 or 90 years is not going to serve us into the future."

Fechner said the biggest opportunities for the sport included bringing millions of community, grassroots and hobby-cyclists into better contact with the top end of the sport, and working with government to improve infrastructure, talent pathways, major events and community value like bike lanes and bike paths.

"Being ambitious [is a skill she can bring from netball administration]. Australian sport is built on bold and ambitious people and that’s why we do kick or play or ride above our weight."

AusCycling chair Duncan Murray said Fechner was the ideal person to lead the organisation through the governance reform.

“During her tenure at Netball Australia, Marne more than doubled revenue, grew the professional league, and led substantial organisational redesign and cultural change. In Marne, we have found a world-class operator to unlock cycling’s potential. She will be fabulous, and we are very excited," Murray said.

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