SportsAid’s annual SportsBall has been an ever-present in the British sporting calendar since the 1970s. This will remain the case, but as explained by Tim Lawler, SportsAid’s Chief Executive, the SportsBall will be taking on a new look and feel. There will be more opportunities for the wider SportsAid family to play their part as the charity celebrates the wonderful achievements of the country’s brightest young sporting talent. The SportsBall 2018 takes place at London’s City Hall this evening, with the presentation of the prestigious One-to-Watch Award, as the event begins to head into a new era.
'THE SPORTSBALL IS A WONDERFUL CELEBRATION OF SPORT'
TIM LAWLER, SPORTSAID CHIEF EXECUTIVE
“The founding of SportsAid back in 1976 was a pioneering move in British sport. The charity became the vehicle to fund the top sports people of the day, in this regard pre-dating the National Lottery by some 20 years. Other pioneering steps followed: SportsAid was the first charity partner of the London Marathon in 1984; the SportsAid ‘lottery’, played in Tesco, was one of the first of its kind in the UK; and the SportsBall, the charity’s annual gala dinner, was ground-breaking in its format and fundraising – and today, SportsAid is one of only a handful of sports organisations referenced in the A Level syllabus for Physical Education.
“It is this pioneering spirit that is bringing a fresh, new look to the SportsBall. The black tie, gala dinner in a swanky London hotel has been a favourite of the charity and sporting sectors for decades and a model that has served SportsAid well since the 70s. Times are changing though and SportsAid wants to be at the forefront. SportsAid is a positive, enabling force for good in sport. The charity is a vivid thread running through the fabric of British sport, connecting each new generation of talented sports people to the possibility of them reaching their personal best.
"Of the thousand or so sports people helped every year, there is a rich diversity and a myriad of stories with the common denominator being that they are all incredibly talented local heroes – ordinary young people doing extraordinary things. SportsAid’s primary purpose is to recognise these young sports people and give them a helping hand. SportsAid’s biggest challenge is in raising the awareness of its work.
“The SportsBall is a wonderful celebration of sport, shining a spotlight on these young athletes, yet on reflection, relatively few people have the opportunity to attend the SportsBall. We have been considering this for a while – how could the SportsBall involve more people? Could the SportsBall become the people’s SportsBall? Is there a way to create opportunities for the wider SportsAid family to attend?
“And so the vision is developing. It will still be a fun, exciting celebration of SportsAid’s work. It will still feature the announcement of the prestigious One-to-Watch Award. There will still be amazing sporting demonstrations. It will still include opportunities to meet and mingle with household names of British sport as well as the nation’s stars of the future.
"But…what will be new? The venue will be different; the format and structure to the evening will be different, with many more opportunities to meet people and participate; and perhaps most significantly, the ticket prices will change – we want more people, more athletes and parents and supporters and volunteers, to have the chance to be part of the SportsBall. The new SportsBall will be for the SportsAid family.
“This year’s event at City Hall near Tower Bridge is a stepping stone towards those changes. As well as featuring the announcement of this year’s One-to-Watch Award winner, it will be an occasion to share this vision of a new SportsBall and to invite people to help the charity bring it to life. The world of charity and sporting gala dinners is changing and SportsAid would like to lead the way.”
You can follow updates from the SportsBall 2018 by following SportsAid on its Twitter and Instagram pages throughout this evening. The annual One-to-Watch Award will be presented with rower Calvin Tarczy, boxer Caroline Dubois and track and field athlete Dominic Ogbechie all in contention for the prestigious accolade. Thanks for supporting the next generation!