SportsAid's athlete survey confirms costs are going up for young talented sports stars

SportsAid can reveal that the overall average spend on sport annually for young talented athletes has risen by more than £1,500 across the last decade. The results come from the charity’s 10th annual athlete survey and show that it cost £6,417 for each of Great Britain’s finest prospects to fund themselves during 2016/17. That’s a total commitment of over £7 million for the 1,106 athletes supported by SportsAid over the year.
26 September, 2017

SportsAid can reveal that the overall average spend on sport annually for young talented athletes and their families has risen by more than £1,500 (over 30%) across the last decade. The results come from the charity’s 10th annual athlete survey and show that it cost £6,417 for each of Great Britain’s finest prospects to fund their sporting ambitions during 2016/17.

That’s a total commitment of over £7 million for the 1,106 athletes supported by SportsAid over the course of the year. SportsAid conducts the athlete survey to help highlight and better understand the sacrifices made by young sports stars and their families to train and compete. The first SportsAid survey, launched in 2007/08, recorded the lowest overall average at £4,885 per athlete.

The majority of athletes supported by SportsAid are aged between 12 and 18 years old, with a typical award value of £1,000 per athlete. For 2016/17 the survey was completed by 829 athletes - showing an even gender split between respondents. The questions asked covered a range of topics including finance, biggest challenges, key motivations, targets for the future and the importance of SportsAid support.

The survey revealed that a SportsAid athlete, on average, covers a distance of 40 miles every week – not in the car or on the bus, but under their own steam in training. This huge level of dedication provided the inspiration behind the creation of the #MyMiles challenge – a social media led campaign running during SportsAid Week which began yesterday (25 September) and finishes on Sunday 1 October.

The #MyMiles challenge is calling on the British public to contribute miles of their own to effectively keep young athletes company - recognising their efforts while asking for a small donation to help them towards fulfilling their sporting ambitions. Tim Lawler, Chief Executive of SportsAid, is excited to get the challenge underway and encouraged people to ‘get sponsored or make a donation of their own’.

“The #MyMiles challenge is our chance to say ‘we’re with you’, ‘you’re not on your own’ to our next generation of sporting talent and get out there and do some of our own miles for them. Imagine what an impact it
would make if thousands of people committed to do a few miles in SportsAid Week – it could be an amazing, positive, healthy way to help young athletes with their rising costs.”

The inaugural SportsAid Week, launched in 2016 to mark the charity’s 40th anniversary, raised over £40,000. This year’s initiative will see Olympians, Paralympians, up-and-coming athletes, National Governing Bodies, schools, universities, commercial organisations and individuals rallying together for another week of fun and fundraising activity.

Here’s the results from SportsAid’s 10th annual athlete survey....

KEY FINDINGS

- The Bank of Mum and Dad, British sport’s most loyal and longstanding ‘sponsor’, committed over £7m to support their talented children over the last 12 months.

- The overall average spend for a SportsAid athlete has risen from £4,885 to £6,417 over the last 10 years – that’s a difference of £1,532.

· Nearly 60 athletes who responded to the survey would have had to either give up their sport or consider doing so without their SportsAid award.

· Travel, accommodation and equipment are the main costs facing SportsAid athletes with balancing different areas of their lives being the biggest challenge.

· SportsAid athletes cover 40 miles a week in training – that’s the same as running from Kensington Palace to Windsor Castle....and back!

· SportsAid athletes travel 576 miles every month to train and compete - the equivalent distance of driving from the White Cliffs of Dover to Lake Geneva

· 79% of SportsAid athletes revealed they would not have been able to train and compete as much without the charity’s support.

· 11% of SportsAid athletes are targeting competing at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games for their respective nations.

· The Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympics is the key long-term aim for 33% of SportsAid athletes.

· 25% of disabled athletes said the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympics was their single biggest inspiration for taking up their sport competitively.

RESPONDENTS

There was a total of 829 respondents – that’s a response rate of 75%. It’s the highest number of athletes that have responded to the survey in five years. These athletes are the country’s brightest prospects. Each year, they are nominated to SportsAid by the national governing bodies of more than 60 sports.

· 50/50 gender split overall with a slight skew among disabled athletes (66% male and 34% female)

· 82% non-disabled and 18% disabled

· 90% from England, 4% each from Scotland and Wales, and remaining 2% from Northern Ireland

· 72% compete in Olympic disciplines with 18% from Paralympic disciplines (10% from neither)

FINANCE

The overall average spend for a SportsAid athlete has risen to £6,417. That’s a jump of £1,532 (over 30%) when compared to the first survey conducted in 2007/08 – underlining the importance of the charity’s support. It’s also the highest total since 2011/12 when the country was gearing up for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London.

Overall average spend per athlete

2016/17 – £6,417
2015/16 – £6,193
2014/15 – £5,912
2013/14 – £6,193
2012/13 – £6,022
2011/12 – £6,438
2010/11 – £5,576
2009/10 – £4,898
2008/09 – £5,022
2007/08 – £4,885

· 6% (that’s 50 athletes) would have had to consider giving up their sport without SportsAid. 1% (eight athletes) would have been forced to stop.

· 85% said the SportsAid award has relieved the financial pressure of their sport. 32% of athletes receive no other forms of financial backing.

· Travel is the single greatest expenditure for 47% of SportsAid athletes – accommodation (14%) and equipment (12%) are the next biggest outlay.

· 71% feel costs are rising overall with 25% seeing no change. The remaining 4% believe their costs have fallen.

· 97% of athletes have spent part of their SportsAid award on travel with 80% also paying towards accommodation, equipment and training costs.

BIGGEST CHALLENGES AND TRAINING HARD

SportsAid athletes show incredible levels of commitment and determination as they strive to reach the top of their sport. They usually train during the evening but many have early morning sessions too. They travel great distances to be able to keep up with their sporting schedule – balancing this with an already hectic lifestyle.

· On average, a SportsAid athlete covers 40 miles a week in training. 8% do as many as 150 miles or more.

· 69% of athletes spend up to 20 hours per week training.

· On average an athlete travels 144 miles every week to get to training and competitions. 32% have to clock up 200 miles and above.

· Majority of athletes train between 5pm and 9pm (75%). 22% do sessions early in the morning within the window of 5am and 9am.

· 47% find balancing all the different areas of their lives as one of the biggest challenges. Money is an area of concern for 41%.

NEXT STEPS AND FUTURE AMBITIONS

SportsAid athletes have a series of goals they wish to achieve – both in and outside of sport. A third see representing Great Britain at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games as a long-term target with a smaller group of athletes aiming for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games in the more foreseeable future.

SPORT

· 11% of SportsAid athletes are targeting selection for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games from their respective nations.

· A third of SportsAid athletes are pushing for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympics – 33% seeing this as their main long-term target.

· 58% of disabled athletes are aiming for Tokyo in comparison to 27% of non-disabled. The latter are typically younger when receiving a SportsAid award.

· 31% of non-disabled and 23% disabled athletes see the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris as a more achievable long-term goal.

NON-SPORT

· Outside of sport, 51% of disabled athletes see continuing education as their priority with 29% looking to take the next step to college or university, highlighting the importance of the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS).

· 69% of non-disabled athletes also want to pursue their education with 50% aiming for college or university, again underlining the significance of TASS in providing options for young athletes.

· 16% of disabled athletes are opting to stay in full-time employment while 10% choose to maintain part-time positions.

INSPIRATIONS AND MOTIVATORS

SportsAid athletes see their family and coach as the main driving forces behind why they took up their sport – people inspire people. Their key motivation as to why they continue is the feeling of success and the opportunity to compete internationally – this next generation have ambition and aspirations. Many disabled athletes have been specifically inspired by the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

· 39% of SportsAid athletes revealed their family acted as the single biggest inspiration when taking up their sport competitively. 17% saw it as their coach.

· 25% of disabled athletes said the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games was their single biggest inspiration compared to 5% non-disabled.

· 61% say the success they’ve had so far in sport is what continues to motivate them. Competing at the highest level internationally is the reason for 25%.

· The success of Great Britain at the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games has given 6% of athletes the motivation to continue pursuing their goals.

IMPORTANCE OF THE SPORTSAID AWARD

SportsAid athletes have felt the impact of the charity’s backing. The finance and recognition from SportsAid has given them a motivational boost while supporting them in reaching their targets. For many, it has enabled them to train and compete more often as they look to progress in their sporting careers.

· 99% said the SportsAid award they received helped to motivate them. 96% revealed it had helped them to achieve their goals.

· 74% feel SportsAid support is helping them progress. 79% revealed they would not have been able to train and compete as much without SportsAid.

· Receiving a SportsAid award has seen 50% of athletes able to focus more on their sport. 44% have improved their ranking with the charity’s support.

· 49% feel they have more self-belief having been presented a SportsAid award. 27% used their SportsAid award to help them recover from injury.

You can help support the next generation of young British athletes by getting involved in SportsAid Week 2017. The initiative runs from Monday 25 September to Sunday 1 October with a week of fun and fundraising in store. There are lots of ways to show your support including the newly-introduced #MyMiles challenge. Your backing will make a real difference to the country’s finest sporting prospects.