The UK’s largest independent athlete support programme opens its annual Award programme for new applications today (20 December 2023).

Talented athletes from 65 areas across the UK are invited to apply for a range of support awards which include financial help, access to sport facilities, physiotherapy, lifestyle mentoring and mental health aid.

Now in its 15th year of operation, the GLL Sport Foundation has so far contributed over £14m and distributed 26,000 awards to support young talented athletes on their sporting journey.

The innovative scheme is provided by charitable social enterprise GLL and a number of partner sponsors and expects to award £1.2m worth of help in 2024 for successful applicants. Already a popular and essential support programme for athletes, the Foundation is expecting heightened athlete interest as training costs, equipment purchases, strength & conditioning costs and travel costs continue to rise.  

All successful applicants will be given access to the 250 sport and leisure facilities across the UK operated by GLL under its “Better” trading brand.

Applications open from 20 December 2023 until 20th February 2024.

The award application announcement for 2024 was made at the York Stadium Leisure Complex which comprises the LNER Community Stadium and York Leisure Centre.  Both of the co-located venues are run by GLL and now add their world class facilities to those that can be used by athletes in training – including Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park’s Copper Box Arena, Lee Valley Regional Park Authority’s White Water Centre, Ice Centre and VeloPark; and Manchester’s Aquatics Centre and National Cycling Centre. The LNER Community Stadium will be hosting matches for the Rugby World Cup 2025 as well as resident teams York City FC and York Knights RLFC.

Over the past 16 years, GLL Sport Foundation supported athletes have excelled in major competitions and have gained 76 Olympic and Paralympic medals and 77 Commonwealth Games medals. Previous holders of GSF awards include Darryl Neita (athletics), Anna Hursey (table tennis), Charlotte Worthington (BMX), Alex Yee (triathlon), boxers Anthony Joshua, Aiden and Michaela Walsh, divers Tom Daley, Matty Lee and Andrea Spendolini-Sirieix, swimmers Tully Kearney, Susie Rodgers, Tom Dean and Ellie Simmons.

It has always however been a core mission of the programme to support young emerging talent on their sporting journey, with the majority of athletes aged under the age of 21 and the largest cohort under 18 years old. Across the programme, 87% of athletes receive no other funding or athlete support, which underlines the importance of the scheme to both athletes and GLL’s social values.

Commenting on the launch of the GSF Awards 2024, Peter Bundey, GLL Sport Foundation Chair, paid tribute to the support of Foundation Patron Sally Gunnell and all partners involved in the programme including; SportsAid, Mary Peters Trust, SportsAid Wales, sponsors, medical and local authority partners and Switch The Play Foundation: 

“Our awards work alongside a number of national talent pathways and provide a lifeline to individual athletes as well as helping local communities discover the opportunities and enrichment that comes through sport”. 

Also attending the launch were GSF Award Alumni Lucy Hadaway (Athletics), Daisy Sanderson (York Valkyrie), Dylan Parsons (Volleyball) and Luke Smith (Volleyball) and Thomas Moss (Sailing).

Daisy Sanderson said: “The GSF Programme offers a unique opportunity for young athletes to take the next steps to national and international completion in the widest variety of sporting disciplines. GSF is the largest programme of its type in the UK and has been running for 16 years.”

Lucy Hadaway said: “The cost of living crisis is affecting young sportsmen and women deeply. Kit, travel, nutrition and training have all got more expensive in recent years. GSF offers a way to keep athletes‘ dreams alive by giving that practical support precisely when it’s needed.”

Dylan Parsons said:  “The York Stadium and Leisure Centre Complex offers world class facilities for local athletes to train in and reach their sporting potential. GSF offers free training memberships to further reduce barriers to participation for young athletes like myself.” 

The successful impact of the Foundation is important to Patron Sally Gunnell OBE, who remains the only athlete to hold consecutive Olympic, World and Commonwealth titles.  

She said:  “From my own experience starting out as a young athlete and progressing through my sport, I understand how important the recognition and support from organisations like the GLL Sport Foundation can be to a young athletes. It can make the difference in achieving sporting ambitions.”

York City Council’s Community Sports Development Manager Paul Ramskill, said: 

”The City of York Council’s Sport and Active Leisure team are proud to support the GLL Sport Foundation and encourage talented athletes from across the city to apply.  

“Many York-based athletes receive little or no funding, which underlines the importance of this scheme and the chance to benefit from financial support and training memberships on offer through the Foundation.”

GSF currently supports 11 athletes in York, ranging from 13yrs to 59yrs old and in a variety of disciplines from Wheelchair Basketball to Martial Arts. 

Applications are open until 20th February 2024 via the website portal –

GSF athletes and prospective new applicants attending the GSF Awards launch event were:

Talent Award - Dylan Parsons – Volleyball
Top Up Award Over 18s- Lucy Hadaway – Athletics; Daisy Sanderson (York Valkyrie)
Training Award - Luke Smith – Volleyball; Thomas Moss - Sailing

Attending from GLL: 
Emma Lewis – GSF Board member
Tony Wallace, Regional Director
Paul Bickle, York Partnership Manager

Attending from York City Council:
Community Sports Development -  Paul Ramskill and Katie Lee