Having moved away from home for the first time, young hockey star Martha Taylor believes the financial support of Entain Holdings and SportsAid could be crucial in her bid to reach the top.
The 18-year-old 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.
Taylor recently enrolled on a geography degree at the University of Exeter, where she hopes to continue her development on the hockey pitch, and eventually emulate Great Britain’s Rio 2016 gold medallists.
The next step on her journey concerns progression from England U18s to Great Britain U23s, and Taylor insists funding from Entain and SportsAid will give her the best chance of achieving her own Olympic dream.
“There are huge costs associated with playing elite sport – in terms of travel, kit, medical fees and everything else – so it will be a massive help, especially now I’m at university,” said Taylor, one of 50 beneficiaries of Entain’s programme which is part of the Pitching In initiative.
“My parents are still supporting me, but it allows me to take a bit more care of myself which is really helpful. It’s going to play a big part in keeping me at the level I need to be at while they’re not there.
“I’m so grateful for their support and it’s a big boost to know you’ve got these bodies behind you. Knowing that Entain and SportsAid believe in me is huge for my confidence and makes a really big difference.”
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.
While still relatively new to the programme, Taylor is excited about the wide-ranging benefits offered by Entain and SportsAid, and is vying to add her name to the illustrious list of alumni who have gone on to become global stars.
She said: “During lockdown I’ve been able to engage with some of the online workshops that SportsAid have delivered, which I think are really valuable. It’s amazing how much you can learn by connecting with athletes from different sports and hearing how they approach things differently.
“When I saw the list of athletes who have been supported by SportsAid in the past I was amazed. It’s a huge honour to be able to associate myself with the likes of Jessica Ennis-Hill – who was one of my heroes growing up – and hopefully I can share some of their success, too.”
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.