Lowering the minimum age for associate attendants to box greyhounds from 16 to 14 has created a pathway to nurture the next generation into the sport.
The decision was made following consultation between Greyhound Racing NSW, the Greyhound Breeders, Owners and Trainers Association, the Greyhound Welfare & Integrity Commission and Greyhound Clubs NSW.
Less than a week later, 14-year-old Kayla Robertson created history when she boxed Smiley for family friend Bev Sloan at The Gardens, and the greyhound won.
"Our industry is very much family orientated, and in recent times we have seen a surge in young people wanting to become involved," GRNSW chief operating officer Wayne Billett said. "Officials must confirm the youngsters are competent, but we see this as another wonderful opportunity to encourage the next generation into our sport."
The GBOTA's membership and advocacy manager, Kristy Harper, had been consulting with industry bodies for months on pathways for young people to "grow and develop their skills in the industry".
"There was also strong community support around lowering the age as well," she said. "It's vital we continue to attract, support and invest in young people joining our industry. This is a fantastic opportunity for young people to develop their skills appropriately guided by experienced mentors."
It's not only attendants. Associate race official registration now sees 16- to 18-year-olds working at the track under supervision of registered officials.
"We have eight staff under 19 here at Gosford, and all but one were new to the industry. When COVID hit, some of our older staff couldn't come to work, so we gave our young people a go and haven't looked back."
This article was produced as part of an ACM partnership with Greyhound Racing NSW.