Backing The Best

Backing The Best
Established by Sport England in 2015

Learn about becoming a partner

I can't rely on my dad for money for equipment because he doesn’t have it. And if I don’t have the money that I need, I can’t do the things I want to in boxing.

Sophie Colebourn


Backing The Best was launched by Sport England, in partnership with SportsAid, in November 2015. The scheme helps young, talented athletes in England who face the greatest financial pressures.

Backing The Best is not designed to make the commitment to sport any easier, it is designed to make it possible for young people who show promise for the future but may be forced to give up sport entirely due to the costs involved.

The scheme is using £5.5 million of National Lottery funding over a four-year period to extend SportsAid’s reach into new areas of the country and offer more support to those who face the biggest financial challenges. Annual awards of up to £5,000 per athlete will help with essential costs such as travel, accommodation and kit as well as providing extra support from coaches and physios.

Nomination process

In line with all the support that SportsAid provides to young athletes, every recipient of Backing The Best funding must first be nominated to SportsAid by their sport’s governing body. Following this nomination, which takes place once a year in the autumn, SportsAid will carry out a basic means test to ensure the funding goes to those who are most in need.

Up to 100 young athletes are expected to benefit in the first year, rising to around 200 athletes annually in subsequent years.


Athletes from England who are predominantly between the ages of 12 to 18 (but up to 35 in disability sports) who are facing severe financial hardship and meet the talent qualification criteria in the following sports will be considered for Backing The Best funding:

Angling | Archery | Athletics | Badminton | Baseball and softball | Basketball | Boccia | Boxing | Canoeing | Climbing and mountaineering | Cricket (women’s) | Cycling | Disability athletics | Disability cricket | Disability football | Disability gymnastics | Disability sailing | Disability snowsport | Disability tennis | Diving | Equestrian | Fencing | Football (women's) | Goalball | Golf | Gymnastics | Handball | Hockey | Judo | Lacrosse | Netball | Orienteering | Para archery | Para canoeing | Para cycling | Para equestrian | Para rowing | Para shooting | Para triathlon | Pentathlon | Rowing | Rugby league | Rugby union (women’s) | Sailing | Shooting | Skiing and snowboarding | Squash and racketball | Swimming | Synchronised swimming | Table tennis | Taekwondo | Tennis | Triathlon | Volleyball | Waterpolo | Waterskiing and wakeboarding | Weightlifting | Wheelchair basketball | Wheelchair rugby | Wrestling

More information

For more information about Backing The Best please contact Alice Radford at SportsAid on 020 7273 1975.

You can also visit the Backing The Best page on Sport England's website.

Latest news

SportsAid’s Athlete of the Month – Katie Gleeson, 21, from Goring-by-Sea
30 Sep 2016

Rifle shooter Katie Gleeson is used to taking aim and hitting targets. With the Rio 2016 Olympic Games all done and dusted, the attention has already turned to Tokyo in four years time with Katie looking to be in the mix to represent Team GB. Katie receives support through the Backing The Best programme launched by Sport England with SportsAid.

Sport England launches Backing The Best with SportsAid
10 Nov 2015

Sport England has announced a ground-breaking new initiative with SportsAid today to help talented young athletes facing the greatest financial pressure.