Our 50 year history - in the making
The story of Global Performance Testing (GPT) starts in early 2010 when the founder, Graham Dudley, raised a question around the reliability and honesty in talent identification in female football players in Australia. The concern was based on his daughters invitation to a trial camp when the federation had explicitly communicated that, due to her choices not to participate in a pathway summer program, she would not be applicable for trial or selection to the next tier development squad. The invitation fundamentally bypassed the entire ethical guarantee of the federation to other players by choosing to select a non-compliant player for trials. Additionally there was a charge for all players to attend the trial camp raising a question in Graham’s mind about the purpose of the trial camp. Was it for talent identification or fund raising?
In 2010, the ground work of Global Performance Testing began to form as private research was undertaken specific to the area of talent identification and scouting locally in Victoria, Australia and the wider reach in elite sports internationally. It was apparent in the mind of our founder that there was a significant divide between upcoming sport science and empathy in the coaching and scouting community where traditional beliefs of emotion over data remained strong. Over the coming few years there was a sudden impact of sport science and technology hitting the industry at elite and sub-elite level and the pendulum of trust swung back and forth especially in sports such as AFL.
By 2012 there was a foundation of a business model to professionalise the industry of talent identification and this had been reinforced by the release of Moneyball the sport drama movie the previous year featuring Brad Pitt as Billy Beane, the general manager of Oakland Athletics baseball team during their 2002 attempt to assemble a competitive team. Beane had a limited budget and lost several key players in 2001 but meets a young Yale economics graduate called Peter Brand who had radical yet fundamentally sound ideas on assessing players based on data over scouting experience. Without ruining a great movie, the philosophy of data to identify talent was ignited.
On 22nd October 2014 the inaugural Australian business for research and development was registered under the name Academy League which in hindsight was a terrible name considering the organisation was neither an academy nor a league. This name was officially changed to Global Performance Testing in 2015.
During 2014 and 2015 the business sought to provide professional services in performance testing but it soon became evident to Graham that the market place was not ready for reliability as the term “fitness testing” was incorporated to personal training and strength and conditioning rather than talent identification or athlete development. Additionally it was apparent that the market was full of coaches whom had little experience or knowledge of the impact of sport science and data to coaching and development of people. Data was being collected poorly and without validity and then relied upon to make significant change. Looking back, it is apparent that this time of poor data, poor interpretation and poor strategy made a negative impact to sports and general wellness in athletes developmentally. By early 2015, the business was put into a dormant mode and Graham took a responsibility to invest heavily in research and development in the physical literacy space he had discovered in Canada in 2014.
Discussions started with key professional institutes including the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) and National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) plus many one-to-one meetings with leading developers of strategies such as SPARQ, the NFL Combine and CHL draft academies. GPT worked in alignment with managers at the AIS to meet the requirements of the National Sport Science Quality Assurance (NSSQA) program however in alignment with changes to the institutes policies, formal accreditation could not be provided to an independent business.
Graham’s experience in small business development globally and the nature of strict policy and procedural development in owning a mezzanine floor construction business (significant focus on conditional management, organisational health and safety and policy management) plus empathy as a successful licensed development coach in football (soccer) meant that the challenge to create a fundamental moral change in the industry was identifiable and deliverable so the creation of Global Performance Testing Quality Assurance (GPTQA) was established.
GPTQA was initiated not as a quality assurance around physiological testing on professionals but a professional and reliable testing services on human performance at scale. This meant any ability, any age, any gender, background, ethnicity, religion, belief, sport or location. Radically the GPTQA concept was also not limited to sport but to active living from the outset therefore had to open communications to technology, research, health and wellness inclusively.
By 2016 GPTQA’s basic structure had been designed and was being tested with partners and clients around Australia in key areas of staff training, inter and intra trainer reliability, inter and intra trial reliability, validity in test protocols, methodology in data collection, management, storage and distribution and purposeful outcomes for assessing humans in a culturally acceptable way. With formal training workshop programs designed and deliverable and a confidence in the reliability of the process, GPT started to look towards independent professionals to evaluate the systems to achieve third party recognition of its value and place in the industry and it was in 2016 that Graham approached Victoria University to consider a discussion around collaboration.
2017 was hugely positive for GPT as official collaboration was made with Victoria University and the then named Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living (ISEAL) whereupon it was agreed that ISEAL would evaluate the GPTQA system impartially to identify its ability to fulfil their objectives. A formal research project was completed by late 2017 resulting in an acceptance of the system as true and reliable. From this moment, Graham and GPT turned to the delivery of services locally in Victoria and the development of the GPTQA accreditation and learning systems in continued partnership with the university resulting in a complete online GPTQA Level 1 course completed and deliverable by early 2018.
GPT services expanded throughout Australia to schools, sporting clubs and health clubs in 2018 and continued development in alignment with sporting and health strategies in Australia and internationally. The GPTQA brand was being aligned to as an innovative and essential partner in the long-term delivery of physical literacy. This message was reinforced with a pilot project to India in October 2018 offering an objective and consistent approach to functional movement and fitness assessment to schools in Mumbai and Tamil Nadu while simultaneously being the service provider to the NFL in an Oceanic talent search throughout Fiji, Samoa, eastern Australia and New Zealand.
2019 began with a formal partnership between GPT Australia and Victoria University focusing on innovation, research, training and employment in addition to partnering education to support training and resources around reliability in performance assessment and data interpretation in schools. Continued development in disability sport and recreation is in place as partners of Wheelchair AFL, AFL Victoria and support to Invictus for ongoing wellness of defence personnel in addition to an increase number of clients both nationally and internationally.
The mission, vision and culture of Global Performance Testing is unchanged. In 2014 Graham Dudley started a 50 year project and we are well on track to make a difference to the wellness and future of communities globally.
Our Mission Statement:
“To create an international community of educated sporting and fitness enthusiasts armed with reliable information and innovative tools to excel, stay on track in achieving their goals and building a team that empowers our future athletes”
Our Vision Statement:
“Like diamonds from coal, we will stick firmly to our goal in simply being the best at what we do – full stop!”
Our Culture Statement:
“I’m the new guy...and I love what I see! A brand empowering the future of our fitness and wellbeing, bridging the gaps in sporting generations, cultures, genders and abilities and creating opportunity for those involved to excel in life and in business.
When we pass on the sports field we say “HEY, HOW’S YOUR DAY”, then listen to the answer. When we’re asked to give a response we’re clear, concise and true to our word. When we work with a team, we are a team member and their passion is our passion. Our workplace is full of support, enthusiasm and solutions not problems and when we put the kettle on, we ask “anyone for tea?”
Our whole being is about being accurate, not for our gain but our clients and our morals motivate us in always supporting the first and the last placed. We smile, we laugh and we acknowledge hard work but not at someone’s expense and through every situation we remain on track because that’s who we are.”