Baseball and softball rejoin SportsAid

Tue 10 Nov 2015

Baseball and softball have been reinstated as sports whose junior athletes can receive awards from SportsAid, a sponsor-funded charity that helps young sports people overcome the financial challenges they face as they bid to realise their full potential.

A large number of young baseball and softball players received small SportAid awards during the early 2000s, but our sports were cut from the programme soon after we were dropped from the Olympics.  BaseballSoftballUK has waged a long campaign to persuade the organisation to reinstate us, and this has finally been successful, no doubt aided by the likelihood that baseball and softball will be returned to the Olympic programme in Tokyo in 2020.
 

Twelve athletes​

Under the agreement reached with SportsAid, twelve athletes aged between 15 and 19 who have been selected for BSUK’s High Performance Academy -- six from baseball and six from female fastpitch softball – can be nominated to receive grants in 2016. While there is no guarantee of award value, the average SportsAid grant across all sports in 2015 was around £1000 per athlete.

This money can be used to defray the cost of expenses such as travel to training and overseas tournaments, equipment, Academy and HPA fees, gym memberships etc, but can also be used to help create new opportunities for training and competition.

Eligible athletes from both sports will now be invited to apply for the 2016 SportsAid awards, and six from each sport will be selected by national team coaches later in November.  Criteria for selection will include ability, commitment and the extent of the costs that athletes are facing in 2016.

The athletes selected will then need to complete their applications through the SportsAid website before the end of this month.
 

Reaction

Bob Fromer, a long-time member of softball’s GB Management Committee, said: “Getting softball and baseball back into the SportsAid programme is a tremendous and hard-won achievement by BSUK, and is going to raise the morale of our best young athletes in both sports.  With no external funding for our national teams, some players and their families struggle to meet the costs of training and competition, and these awards will really help.”
 

History

SportsAid was established in 1976 to help British athletes meet the cost of their sports careers.  The aim was to help the nation's top performers to represent their country on the international stage against better-funded overseas competitors.

Then known as the Sports Aid Foundation, the charity's principal function was to raise money from the private sector and distribute funds from the football pools to provide financial assistance to amateur sportsmen and women throughout Britain.

Before Lottery funding was introduced in 1997, SportsAid remained the major source of financial support for all amateur British athletes.  Well-known recipients of SportsAid Awards during this time included Steve Redgrave, Tessa Sanderson, Daley Thomson, Sharron Davies, Jonathan Edwards, Tanni Grey-Thompson and Linford Christie.

In 1997, Lottery funding came into British sport and brought a change to SportsAid's role.  The charity switched its focus to areas that the new Lottery funding did not meet by supporting young and aspiring British athletes rather than those who have already reached a world class level.

SportsAid awards are now given to young sportsmen and women who have shown that they have the talent and determination to succeed.  All the athletes are chosen for SportsAid's support by their sport's governing body.

Over four decades, SportsAid has donated more than £50 million to the future of British sport, helping many of the country’s best known sporting heroes to achieve their ambitions.

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