Fighting her way back on to the international scene, softball star Louisa Scott insists the financial support of Entain Holdings and SportsAid is crucial to keeping her dream alive.
The 26-year-old – from Hounslow – is a recent recipient of the award, with the two bodies having partnered up in a three-year agreement in 2019, aiming to help young athletes across the UK realise their potential.
Scott was part of the GB setup between the ages of 13 and 18, but having taken time away from the sport while studying for a sports science degree – and later for a PGCE – at the University of Brighton, she is now hungry to make her way in the senior ranks.
While she juggles her playing commitments in the Netherlands with her career as head of year 7, 9 and 10 at Twickenham School, the Hounslow-based athlete admits none of it would be possible without the programme’s support.
“The money makes a world of difference, especially in a sport like softball that is generally self-funded but that actually costs a lot to commit to,” said Scott, one of 50 beneficiaries of Entain’s programme which is part of the Pitching In initiative.
“The equipment is expensive but it lasts, so most of the money I receive goes on travel. One of our national centres is in Coventry which is a two-hour journey for me, so it means I’m able to pay for the petrol and accommodation
“There’s also regular flying to the Netherlands to consider – which is crucial to my development – so I’m really grateful for the backing from SportsAid and Entain and I don’t think it’d be possible without them.”
As well as funding for training, travel and equipment, athletes on the SportsAid programme receive valuable mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition and sports psychology.
The young athletes will be following in the footsteps of legendary figures such as Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Mo Farah, Dame Sarah Storey and Ellie Simmonds OBE – all of whom received SportsAid support – and more recent beneficiaries including Dina Asher-Smith and Adam Peaty MBE.
Besides the monetary value of the programme, Scott is confident the support of Entain and SportsAid acts as a significant psychological boost, as she looks to return to international competition and increase the exposure of softball in the UK.
She said: “When I came back to softball after a few years out I think my confidence was shattered, but knowing that SportsAid believed in me was a huge boost, and it really drove me forward and motivated me.
“I’ve found the networking events very useful during my time on the programme, too. It’s always useful to hear how other athletes deal with similar problems to yourself, and hopefully I can continue to feed off that support into the future.”
Entain is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, Entain are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit entaingroup.com to find out more.