Grainne Hurst

With sport playing a large part in our business, we must play our part in its continued success.

Despite the odds, the Tokyo Olympics kicked off recently. Although there’s been mixed reviews on the opening ceremony, the actual sporting elements have continued the great summer of sport we missed out on in 2020.

Here at Entain we are cheering on two particular athletes who have made their way to Tokyo. Beth Schriever, a BMX rider, and Hannah Williams, a 400m relay athlete, not only fly the flag for Team GB but also champion the work of the fantastic charity, SportsAid. In 2019, both Beth and Hannah were awarded sponsorship through our Entain partnership with SportsAid.

So we were absolutely thrilled when Beth scooped the gold medal in the women’s BMX race, holding off a late charge from defending champion Mariana Pajon of Colombia to claim top spot on the podium. Beth showed huge promise as a talented young athlete, and to see her win Olympic gold is absolutely fantastic. We feel very proud to have supported her on her amazing journey.

To see Hannah achieve her long-held dream of representing Team GB in the Olympics is so exciting. We’re pleased to have played a part in her success so far and will be shouting at the TV when she hits the track.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​SportsAid plays an important part in our grassroot sport agenda. In the last three years we have supported over 100 athletes through the partnership, providing them with the motivation, financial awards and personal development opportunities to help them fulfil their potential. These are the next generation of sporting heroes and with sport playing a large part in our business, it’s vital that we play our part in its longevity.

This is the approach we took when we announced our Pitching In programme last year. The Isthmian, Northern Premier and Southern Leagues – collectively known as The Trident Leagues – which make-up levels seven and eight of the English football league pyramid, will benefit from our multi-year investment programme. It kicked off last summer and provides vitally-needed financial support, as the leagues seek to cope with the consequences of the pandemic.

The Trident Leagues, which trace their roots back to the nineteenth century, are at the heart of the national game, with 240 clubs and 15,000 players registered in the many villages, towns and cities of England and Wales, bridging the gap between the professional and grassroots game.

At the centre of the local community, these clubs are reliant on their fans for volunteer support to keep them going. Through the Pitching In programme, we aim to build on this by offering volunteer support from our colleagues at Entain.

This summer we have taken the fan and club experience one step further and announced the inaugural Pitching In Super Cup to open the new season. On Saturday, August 7, the FA trophy winners, Hornchurch, will take on the FA Vase winners, Warrington, for the Super Cup. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to build on the excitement created by this summer’s Euros.

Investment in grassroots sport is vital not only to the success of our next generation of athletes but to its longevity in providing entertainment for the dedicated fans. Our support through our partnership with SportsAid has given opportunities to many young sporting hopefuls. Our Pitching In Trident League sponsorship has extended the role of a sponsor and established a multi-layered approach in grassroots sport, going beyond financial investment, through personal development workshops with SportsAid or the volunteering scheme with Pitching In.

The most effective way of providing support is to establish the areas within sport that are key to its success, and we are confident that this approach will continue to deliver success and enjoyment for many years to come.

Grainne Hurst is Director of Corporate Affairs at Entain

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