History of the charity
Helping British sportsmen and women over five decades
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 funds from the private sector and distribute funds from The 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 include:
- Steve Redgrave
- Tessa Sanderson
- Daley Thomson
- Sharron Davies
- Jonathan Edwards
- Tanni Grey-Thompson
- Linford Christie
Focusing on youth sport since 1997
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 - as it still does today - by supporting young and aspiring British athletes rather than those who have already reached the 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. These athletes are mostly between the ages of 12 and 18 and compete in around 75 different sports - including disabled and non-disabled, Olympic and Paralympic (winter and summer) and other disciplines. All the athletes are chosen for SportsAid's support by their sport's governing body.
SportsAid athletes compete at the national and international level and the awards they receive - which are generally worth around £1,000 a year - help them with essential costs such as travel, training, accommodation, competition fees and equipment.
- Read more about the athletes SportsAid has supported in recent years in our Athletes section (note that this contains only a selection of the athletes who have received SportsAid Awards).
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.
- Read more about some of the more famous athletes supported by SportsAid in our Legends section (note that this contains only a selection of the famous athletes who have received SportsAid Awards).
As SportsAid’s patron, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge is helping to shine a light on the achievements and potential of young athletes throughout the UK – an inspiring generation who one day hope to represent the nation at the Olympic or Paralympic Games. SportsAid alumnus Sir Chris Hoy welcomed the patronage by saying, “SportsAid played an important role when I was starting out so I know what a huge boost this will be to the young sportsmen and women the charity helps today. As patron Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge will give them the profile they deserve.”