The two new funding initiatives that were announced by British Ski and Snowboard (BSS) are very welcome and innovative. The bringing of the retailers and tourism markets into growing the elite end of the sport is vital. By growing the base of the market, those at the top end of the sport will become better acknowledged and their chances of success will grow as well. While the initiatives are designed to help all the disciplines that the BSS oversee, it does mean that the disciplines will need to put programmes together that will warrant the board considering paying out for them. The money will not just drop off the money tree into their pockets.
With both an ‘Opt in’ and ‘Opt out’ method being used to bring money in from the Tourism and Retail Online sales, Rory Tapner explained that they are unsure of how much money will be raised from the two initiatives.
With the British Snowsports Fund targeting the Tourism market and this money being earmarked for elite athlete programmes across the disciplines, all nine that BSS run, people wishing to approach the fund for money will need to explain why they need the money, what the money will be used for and explain how it will help them to improve. The money will not simply drop into their place.
Programmes for all athletes cost a lot of money and while the money coming into the fund could, potentially, be game changing, athletes and their parents, coaches and others helping them, will need to put a good argument together to explain why the money should be invested in them.
It is in the commercial interests of the sport for these funds to be a success. The more people that take part in winter sport, currently estimated by the Ski Club of Great Britain to be around the 1.2 million mark, the greater the pool of participants available to the BSS to pick from. The more success the elite level of athletes can get, the more people will want to go away on winter sports holidays, thus growing the number wanting holidays.
Tapner explained “It is not an impossible task to put winter sports on a solid financial footing,” and by asking the holiday makers to help contribute a little, this could have huge benefits to all the disciplines. It is now up to the athletes to put their proposals to the board, that includes Sarah Lewis, the current Secretary General of FIS.
The British Ski & Snowboard National Foundation, the second of the two initiatives announced by the BSS is set up to provide a more sustainable funding programme. The Foundation is geared more on the charity side of things, for financial reasons (tax benefits) and ‘will provide financial support for talented young skiers and snowboarders as well as encouraging grassroots participation in snowsports.’
With an athletes career ranging from twelve years old to beyond thirty potentially, the need to stop athletes dropping out of the sport at between eighteen and nineteen is vital. With both Cara Brown and Charlie Raposo at the launch of the initiatives explaining the need to tap into the incredible sports science knowledge that Britain has, as well as the need to employ the best support staff, these two programmes are vital to the future of the sport.
Funding for all bar Park and Pipe, is scarce in terms of UK Sport money, so this is welcome news. Yet to access the funding, Alpine and the other BSS disciplines need to think smart and put in realistic proposals with potential: the money will not just be handed out.
To read the full press release from BSS click here.