Last week saw the launch of the new ParalympicsGB “Road To Rio” campaign. They're aiming to raise extra funds for the GB Paralympic team before they head out to Brazil this September. The fundraising campaign, backed by celebrities including Eddie Izzard and Clare Balding, has been named “Supercharge Paralympics GB” and aims to get the British public to donate money in support of our athletes. Check out the advert for the campaign here:
ParalympicsGB receives funding from the National Lottery and UK Sport but they claim it is simply not enough to give our athletes an edge on the international stage. Eddie Izzard stated that ParalympicGB's success will “inspire the nation and continue to challenge perceptions”. And yes, we did all get inspired by the Paralympics at London 2012 and I'm sure once again we will be supporting GB athletes all the way. Interest in Paralympic sport has increased in recent years with greater media coverage of events.
A quick look on “Google Trends” shows that the UK are top of the list when it comes to googling “paralympics” related search terms.
...And since 2004, the amount of people searching “Paralympics” or “Paralympic” has increased with every Olympic year.
That must be good news for disability sport in the UK and around the world, right? More interest in the sport usually equates to more investment into the sport. However, some feel that the money could be shared more evenly between top athletes that represent us around the world and grassroots organisations that bring disability sport to communities across the UK. After all, without the grassroots sport organisations where would our elite athletes begin their journey?
One example of the effects of low funding at a grassroots level is that many of the UK's best wheelchair basketball players end up going abroad where they can play for a team with funding and actually make some money out of the game. More funding for the sport in the UK would mean we could keep some of those players and develop the game here rather than losing them all to teams abroad.
So the question is, do you push money into the grassroots organisations or to the top of the pile? While it would be great if we could help all levels of sports in the UK, in my opinion to bring investment to the sport you NEED to spend money at the top. Quite simply, bringing home more medals inspires more people to take up sport.
More mass exposure = higher awareness = higher public interest = more funding!
By investing money at the top we will see more exposure for disability sports in the media which results in a higher public awareness and higher interest. It is this which will provide more funding for everyone, at all levels of sport in the future.
So, let's support our GB Paralympic athletes on their “Road To Rio” campaign and remember that supporting them could, in a roundabout way, benefit you or someone you know in the very near future!
To donate £5 to the "Supercharge ParalympicsGB" campaign text SUPER to 70700.
(donations go to the British Paralympic Association)