SportsAid supports over 1,000 athletes each year – the vast majority aged 12 to 18 – by providing them with a financial award to help towards training and competition costs. This acts as a real motivational boost as it is often the first recognition they receive outside of their support network. Most of them rely heavily on their parents as they have no other funding.
These athletes are Great Britain’s brightest sporting prospects. They are nominated to SportsAid by the national governing bodies of more than 60 sports based on set criteria from each. The typical value of a SportsAid award is £1,000 with money generated through a combination of commercial partnerships, trust and charitable funds, and fundraising activities.
The charity delivers personal development opportunities to many athletes through workshop sessions. This sees them offered mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians while gaining advice from industry experts on performance lifestyle management, sports psychology, nutrition, telling your story through the media and how best to seek further sponsorship.
SportsAid has helped many of the biggest sporting household names during the early stages of their careers – long before they were known by the British public. The charity was originally known as the Sports Aid Foundation having been founded as part of a plan involving Denis Howell, the UK’s first Sports Minister, ahead of the Montreal 1976 Olympic Games.
The Foundation was created to provide appropriate funding, in the absence of Government support, to allow the country’s top athletes to compete against usually better-resourced overseas rivals. There was an instant impact as SportsAid beneficiaries Sharron Davies, Duncan Goodhew and David Wilkie, who won gold and silver, all made their mark in Canada.
The SportsAid awards, financed through the Football Pools and the private sector, gave athletes the opportunity to begin training full-time and completely turn their attention to their sport. The award they received – as it still does today – helped cover a range of costs such as coaching, competition fees, accommodation, transport, equipment and nutrition.
Since 1976, SportsAid has supported tens of thousands of athletes by distributing over £50 million in awards. The charity’s extensive alumni stretches across the generations with Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Mo Farah, Baroness Grey-Thompson, Dame Sarah Storey, Sir Steve Redgrave, Dame Katherine Grainger and Daley Thompson CBE all stand-out names.