25 February 2009
Young sportsmen and women in the Bristol area can benefit from a new support scheme launched this week. Named Springboard, the scheme will offer much-needed grants but also provide access to Bristol's training facilities, nutrition advice, advice re sponsorship and contracts, and mentoring.
The scheme represents the successful union of philanthropy and support to the local community when the private, public and voluntary sectors work together. The founding partnership sees contributions from Burges Salmon, SportsAid, Bristol City Council, Bristol University, the John Rutley Sport Fund and the West of England Sport Trust ("Wesport"). It was launched by gold medal Olympian, Ed Coode (now a trainee solicitor at Burges Salmon), who distributed cheques and offers of support to the first three recipients.
Young teenagers Elliott Prendergast (sprinter), Leanne Summerbee (synchronised swimmer) and Chris Flossman (swimmer who will complete in the forthcoming World Transplant Games in Australia) spoke of their ambitions, their rigorous training regimes, commitment and of the demands their sport plays on their families. In his address, Dennis Yeoman of SportsAid SW England said that very often the grants of money went towards travel and accommodation costs at competitions, and equipment.
The scheme hopes to support up to 18 young athletes each year. Typically, beneficiaries will be aged between 12-18 years. Their sport must be recognised by Sport England and they must not be in receipt of funding from the government's Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS) or the National Lottery. As well as grants, athletes will have access to local training facilities provided by Bristol City Council and the University of Bristol, will be invited to attend a High Performance Open Day at the University, and will receive mentoring, publicity and pro bono legal advice from Burges Salmon.
Commenting on the launch, Ed Coode said:
“Over the years, many great athletes have benefited from similar schemes, including the majority of medal winners at last year's Beijing Olympics. The support offered – both as cash and access to facilities - is intended to help at a time when it is often only family and friends acting as sponsors. Often this coincides with education or job commitments when leaving school, and our aim is to provide support and motivation at a time when sport can sometimes take a back seat.
"I myself was very grateful for a small grant from SportsAid which helped me buy some better oars - and gave me the confidence to progress to the next level in my development. And 11 years later I won an Olympic gold medal!
"Launching Springboard has been the culmination of a lot of hard work and commitment on behalf of the founding partnership and we are all very proud to be supporting local young sports stars in this way."