This week is SportsAid Week and it is a chance to celebrate the fantastic work that the organisation does and join their fundraising drive to support the next generation of athletes striving to represent Team GB and ParalympicsGB at future Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Since 1976 SportsAid has been helping athletes at the start of their journey reach the next level by providing them with financial support to help overcome costs associated with their sport.
Last year the charity supported newly crowned 2017 triple European gold medallist para-dressage athlete Suzanna Hext, who joined the UK Sport National Lottery funded World Class Programme in December 2016.
“Finances can be a barrier in any sport and in equestrian sport in particular, we do a lot of training and competing throughout the year,” Suzanna explained.
“I received my SportsAid award through the Real Buzz Foundation, who help disabled athletes reach their full potential, and I put that towards travel and entry to competitions. This allowed me to gain more experience competing with my horse at different shows and helped me meet more people on the dressage circuit.”
Along with the costs of training and competing, the money raised and distributed through SportsAid can assist young athletes with accommodation, transport and equipment and all of this is critical at the early stages of their career.
“Obviously I am hugely grateful for being put forward for the award, and to have people support you on your journey is really reassuring. The fact that they believe in you and what you want to achieve is incredible.”
SportsAid has helped over 1,000 athletes aged between 12 and 18 and they have been provided with an average of £1000 in funding. As well as funding, SportsAid sets up workshops where athletes can obtain advice from experts in areas such as nutrition, performance lifestyle, media and appearances and also hear inspirational stories from athletes who have received awards before.
This year, awards were given to para-dressage athletes Hope Howard and Isle Owen – you can learn more about Isle’s journey with the programme through her blog at: http://www.ilsedressage.com
Five-time Paralympic Gold medallist, Natasha Baker MBE was also a past recipient, alongside other notable names including Sir Chris Hoy, Dame Sarah Storey and Jessica Ennis-Hill CBE.
“There have been a lot of athletes who have been helped by SportsAid and have gone on to become household names, and they all started in the same position as I was in” added Suzanna.
“They do a great job supporting the next generation of athletes. All sports are costly in their own ways and it is greatly appreciated when support like this is provided.”
There are many ways that people can get involved in SportsAid Week to help support the country’s future sporting stars. From bake sales to sponsored triathlons, no matter how big or small, you can choose the size of your event.
This year SportsAid have also set up the #MyMiles challenge - a social media campaign asking fundraisers to undertake physical activity, covering a distance of their choice. From a single mile to as much as 40 (which is the distance the average SportsAid athlete can clock-up each week in training)!
To find out more about SportsAid and SportsAid Week, click here.
To see who SportsAid helps and to find out if you are eligible for a nomination visit: http://www.sportsaid.org.uk/about/who-we-help/