Sport England has stepped up its commitment to SportsAid, awarding the charity £650,000 to support its work with talented young athletes over the next two years.
SportsAid helps the sports stars of tomorrow today by giving them cash awards during the critical early years of their careers so they can train and compete. Typically young athletes train for more than 15 hours a week on top of school or college commitments and travel almost 8,000 miles a year to train and compete.
Sport England’s funding for the charity complements its wider investment in talent development in 43 sports. Sport England has committed £83 million to these sports over the next four years to ensure young athletes with podium dreams receive the best possible coaching and support in high-quality facilities. 21 sports are receiving more talent investment than ever before, including 17 Olympic/Paralympic sports.
Current SportsAid beneficiaries include 16-year-old Ben Rowlings, a wheelchair racer, and 17-year-old middle distance runner Loren Bleaken.
Ben said: “SportsAid have been amazing. Without their support I wouldn't be able to attend as many competitions or train as often. I travel around the country a lot to compete and train and my parents wouldn't be able to fund all of this without the help of SportsAid. This means that I can focus on my sport and give it my all without extra worry.”
Loren said: “SportsAid has really helped me realise how much my sport costs and the support and help over the years my parents have continually given to me, without question. It was great to be able to manage my own finances this year, being able take responsibility and make important decisions for myself concerning my sport and having the freedom to be able to do this because it was my money I was using.”
Sport England’s Director of Sport, Lisa O’Keefe, said: “For an aspiring athlete SportsAid’s help can make all the difference. It’s not just about money – the recognition that comes with a SportsAid award can give talented teenagers the self-belief to take their performance to the next level.”
The funding from Sport England means SportsAid can continue to focus on finding new sources of support – from businesses, trusts and members of the public – for talented young people who aspire to be the next Olympic, Paralympic and world champions. In 2013 this fundraising drive will be led by a new campaign called I Will.
“This year will be a crucial year for British sport and for SportsAid,” said the charity’s Chief Executive Tim Lawler. “We know that aspiring athletes have been inspired by London 2012 and are increasingly looking to SportsAid for support, so the pressure is on for us to keep delivering for them - our next generation of heroes.
“Thanks to our on-going partnership with Sport England and our new campaign we are confident we can build on the great momentum the charity has built up over the past few years and find the support they need.”
To find out more about SportsAid’s new I Will campaign which features ten young athletes who aspire to be ‘the next’ visit the I Will webpage.
At London 2012, 27 Paralympic gold medals were won by athletes who have received SportsAid's support, while three-quarters of the Olympic medallists have been supported by the charity.
“At a young age, committing to sport at a high level can be a real challenge,” said Olympic bronze and silver medal winning gymnast Louis Smith, who was supported by SportsAid in 2007 and 2008. “SportsAid helped me to make this commitment by being an extra vote of confidence outside my support group.”