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Centre of Excellence Fund

The Centre of Excellence Fund aims to improve talent pathways and community engagement for all sporting codes.


Potential applicants are encouraged to review our frequently asked questions to ensure that their application addresses the relevant requirements.

View the Centre of Excellence Fund information session presentation here.

Important dates

The following indicative dates apply to this funding round. 

  • Applications open Monday 1 November 2021
  • Applications close  1pm, Friday 11 February 2022
  • Outcomes advised March 2022 onwards 
  • Funding agreements executed for successful projects March 2022 onwards 
  • Project construction is to commence by March 2023, and project construction is expected to be completed within two years of commencing


Key objectives

The primary objectives of the Fund are to: 

  • Provide elite performance sport infrastructure 

  • Support talent identification and development pathways (i.e. athletes moving from pre-elite to elite)  

  • Support the enhancement of dedicated female programs and facilities to improve pathways for women and girls, in line with the NSW Government’s women in sport strategy Her Sport Her Way

  • Improve the level of community engagement e.g. an increase in the number of community health and wellbeing education workshops held at a Centre of Excellence

Secondary objectives of the Fund are to: 

  • Create multi-purpose and multi-use facility components 

  • Create inclusive facilities that meet the needs of females, people with disability, First Nations peoples and people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities   

  • Establish a diversified funding model 

  • Improve operational sustainability  

  • Promote and incorporate environmental sustainability and climate resiliency into design, construction and operation 

  • Promote innovation in sports science, sports medicine and technology  

  • Promote partnerships that maximise outcomes. 

Funding availability

$150 million has been allocated to the Centre of Excellence Fund.  

The NSW Government is allocating up to $75 million in 2021/2022 (Round 1). 

  • Centre of Excellence Fund grants are for the capital cost of the project only. Applicants are responsible for project administration costs, non-fixed or movable equipment and the ongoing operation of the facility. 
  • The grant amount requested by an applicant must be a minimum of $5 million and cannot exceed $15 million. All applications are required to provide a minimum 50% financial co-contribution of the estimated total project cost (e.g. if an applicant’s estimated total project cost is $30 million, they must demonstrate at least a $15 million co-contribution). A Hardship Form will be available to applicants that cannot meet this requirement. 
  • All successful applicants must enter into a funding agreement with the Office of Sport. Grant payments will not be made until an executed funding agreement is in place and the Office of Sport will not be responsible for any project expenditure until this time. The standard funding agreement terms and conditions are published on the Office of Sport website and no amendments will be considered unless essential to the delivery of a funded project. 
  • Project governance (e.g. establishment and operation of a project control group to oversee the delivery of the project) and planning activities (e.g. activities associated with obtaining planning approval including submitting a Development Application) are to commence within three months of the execution date of the funding agreement.

  • Project construction is to commence by March 2023, and project construction is expected to be completed within two years of commencing. Funding approval may include certain conditions that have been determined throughout the assessment process.

  • Applications should identify the risk of a project not proceeding should the full grant amount requested not be approved. The Office of Sport reserves the right to recommend grant amounts that may differ from the amount requested in the application. Any such details will be specified in a written offer as well as the funding agreement. 
  • Projects that are not the focus of the Centre of Excellence Fund will be encouraged to consider an application under other grant programs (e.g. Multi-Sport Community Facility Fund and Local Sport Grant Program). 

Eligible applicants

To be considered eligible, the project must be submitted through the Office of Sport SmartyGrants website.

Eligible applicants are: 

  • NSW Office of Sport recognised State Sporting Organisations and State Sporting Organisations for People with Disability (including National Sporting Organisations where the state body is part of a unitary governance model) 

  • National Sporting Organisations and National Sporting Organisations for People with Disability  

  • NSW Institute of Sport, Australian Sports Commission (incorporating the Australian Institute of Sport) and NSW Regional Academies of Sport  

  • Australian Universities with NSW campuses  

  • NSW Department of Education operated specialist sports high schools  

  • NSW based professional sporting organisations competing in a national or state competition 

  • NSW based sporting clubs and associations, with the approval of their state or national body 

  • NSW Local Government Authorities, the Unincorporated Far West Region and the Lord Howe Island Board 

  • Private enterprises (for-profit organisations). 

Applications that adopt a partnership approach will be considered favourably. Applicants are encouraged to engage with all levels of government (i.e. federal, state and local), other State and National Sporting Organisations and Sporting Organisations for People with Disability, NSW based professional sporting organisations, and relevant peak sporting bodies in the development of their project. 

Ineligible applicants

Ineligible applicants are any organisation types not listed in the ‘Eligible Applicants’ section, and include (but are not limited to): 

  • Individuals 

  • Schools (other than NSW Department of Education operated specialist sports high schools) and TAFEs 

  • Parent and Citizens (P&C’s) Associations 

  • Other community based or religious groups that do not have a primary purpose of sport and/or recreation 

  • Progress associations. 

Organisations named by the National Redress Scheme for Institutional Child Sexual Abuse on its list of Institutions that have not joined or signified their intent to join the Scheme are not eligible for funding under this program.

Types of projects

To be considered eligible, the project must be submitted through the Office of Sport SmartyGrants website.

Eligible projects must be on land within NSW and applicants must provide a signed letter of consent from any landowners for the project on the land on which the facility is to be developed. 

Additional information also sought includes evidence of applicant’s tenure and lease arrangements. 

Applications should be limited to constructing new or enhancing existing Centres of Excellence that maximise community engagement and demonstrate enhanced inclusion of dedicated female programs and facilities to improve pathways for women and girls.  

The Centre of Excellence Fund will not support the following projects or project components:  

  • Facilities classified as Tier 1 under the NSW Stadia Strategy 2012 

  • The purchase or lease of land 

  • Projects without landowner consent (unless owned by applicant organisation) 

  • Facilities where little or no public access is available (i.e. community engagement outcomes cannot be supported) 

  • Ongoing facility management expenses 

  • Non-fixed or movable equipment (excl. rehabilitation and recovery facilities) that is not integral to the operation of a centre of excellence    

  • Uniforms

  • That do not meet relevant Australian standards 

  • Temporary relocation costs 

  • Rent or other occupancy payments  

  • Costs associated with feasibility, design, or development stages including feasibility studies, business cases and masterplans 

  • Costs associated with preparing and submitting the Centre of Excellence Fund funding application 

  • Administrative or running costs that are normally the responsibility of businesses, state or territory agencies, or local councils 

  • Projects requiring ongoing funding from the NSW Government or Commonwealth Government 

  • Development application fees 

  • Community consultation costs 

  • Car parking 

  • Project management and/or design delivered by the organisation’s staff 

  • Retrospective funding, where projects have commenced construction or are completed prior to the execution of a funding agreement, or which would proceed without any NSW Government financial assistance 

  • Projects that have already been funded by the NSW Government unless where:  

    • Project delivery has been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and/or 

    • Significant new and additional scope is identified to be delivered 

  • Arts, music, craft and recreation facilities that provide experiences that do not meet the Office of Sport’s definition of sport and active recreation 

  • General maintenance or replacement costs as a result of normal wear and tear (e.g. painting, running costs and minor repairs to existing facilities) 

  • Playgrounds and playspaces, including aquatic playspaces 

  • Repair of facilities where the damage can be covered by insurance 

  • Upgrading or redeveloping kitchen or public toilet facilities, except as part of a larger project that meets the objectives and focus of the Fund 

  • For the building or upgrade of licensed areas and gaming areas 

  • Projects located outside eligible local government areas. 

Application process

Follow the steps below to submit your application. To be considered eligible, the application must be submitted through the Office of Sport SmartyGrants website.

Check your eligibility  

  • Before you apply please read the guidelines and related materials including the 2021/2022 application checklist to make sure you understand all relevant requirements. 

  • Find out if your organisation is eligible to apply by referring to the eligible applicants section.

Prepare your application  

  • Applying for the Centre of Excellence Fund is a simple process using the SmartyGrants website.

  • Eligible applicants must prepare a detailed business case in line with NSW Government Business Case Guidelines (TPP18-06) that includes a case for change, cost benefit analysis, financial analysis, commercial analysis and management analysis. The complexity and the size of the business case should be proportional to the scope, value and complexity of the project.

    A business case template is available here. Applicants are permitted to use their own format given it follows the same structure as the business case template.
  • Eligible applicants must complete the online application form via the Office of Sport SmartyGrants website page by 1pm, Friday 11 February 2022.

  • The Office for Sport suggests that it’s good practice to complete the application in SmartyGrants prior to the closing time. The applicant is responsible for ensuring they have adequate technical capability, including sufficient bandwidth, to complete the application in SmartyGrants. 

Submit your application  

  • Visit the Office of Sport SmartyGrants website.

  • Complete the application by filling in each of the sections (including completing a business case and providing supporting documentation).

  • Submit the application by the closing date/time of 1pm, Friday 11 February 2022.

  • If it is clear that for some unforeseen reason you are not able to lodge your application on time, you must contact the Office of Sport at the earliest possible time and within one hour of the closing date/time. 

  • A late application will only be considered where its acceptance would not compromise the integrity and competitiveness of the process. The final determination on whether a late application will be accepted will be made by the Grant Assessment Panel supported by a probity advisor. 

Supporting documents

Start your application

Apply Here


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Get in touch for more information about eligibility criteria, timeframes, and costs; or if you have any questions about the application process.

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