Wandsworth badminton player Will Jones is looking to build on a wealth of experience he has already gained after being granted Entain Holdings and SportsAid funding for a second successive year.
The 19-year-old is a beneficiary of Entains three-year partnership with the sports charity, helping young talent across the UK realise their potential.
Athletes get funding for training, travel and equipment, as well as mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition and sports psychology.
Jones’ first year on the programme was certainly a productive one having taken part in a SportsAid workshop with his fellow supported athletes. at the Lee Valley VeloPark in London
“I’m really grateful for the continued support of Entainand SportsAid,” said Jones.
“The travel costs, accommodation and the entry fees all add up really quickly so the funding is going to make a big difference.
“You don’t realise the cost of things when you’re younger, and all of a sudden when you have to start paying for things, there’s an extra appreciation for parents.
“The workshop last year was really enlightening, seeing other people in their sport and learning how they deal with things was really insightful.
“We all seem to be in the same boat, we’re all pushing for spots in the senior team so it was really good.”
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.
The initiative is part of Entain’s Pitching In, a major new multi-million-pound investment programme designed to support and promote grassroots sports.
And for Jones, having the support of other people in the sporting arena is providing a major boost in confidence.
“It gets you motivated that someone believes in you, you’re not just a lone ranger and it inspires you to keep pushing and putting in that hard work,” he added.
“I’ve played badminton since I was eight or nine. I wasn’t that into it when I was that young.
“My dad played, he took my sister and I down for a couple of sessions and we’ve enjoyed it ever since.
“We were quite competitive. My sister is six years older than me and was stronger than me, so that actually really helped me progress and she pushed me along to get better.”
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.