Sport England commits £6 million of funding to continue support for TASS


Sport England has confirmed its ongoing commitment to the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS) by announcing £6 million of proposed funding over the next three years to enable talented young sports people to combine their academic development alongside their sporting ambitions.

The National Lottery funding has been welcomed by England Lionesses’ Steph Houghton as she gets set to captain the national side at the UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 finals next month.

Houghton, who benefitted from TASS support for three years while studying at Loughborough University, said: “TASS took the pressure off because you want to be able do everything; do well in your sport and on your course.

“Being on TASS meant having that extra security so if anything was to happen, you had that support network around you. I had a few injuries so the physio treatment for me was crucial but I also found the nutrition and lifestyle services really useful.

“TASS helped with the communication between football and uni which allowed me to have some extra flexibility, especially when I was away on international duty for eight or nine days at a time.

“I’m fortunate to have a Sports Science degree so in the future I’d love to be involved with working in the sport, whether in the media or as a coach or manager. I’d encourage all young players – girls and boys – to get a uni or college qualification away from football because you never know what could happen.

“For me, the opportunity that TASS gave me in being able to balance a full-time degree with being an international footballer was brilliant and I’ll be forever grateful for it.”

Houghton’s pathway to success is not unique, with 12 other players in the Lionesses 23-strong squad having been backed by the programme. TASS, which is managed by SportsAid for Sport England, has led the way in ‘dual career’ provision since its inception in 2004.

National Scheme Director, Guy Taylor, said: “We’re delighted by this news. The TASS model is a well-established and proven one able to directly support hundreds of student-athletes from a wide range of sports and indirectly benefit many hundreds more each year.

“Since launching, the scheme has helped more than 6,000 athletes in full-time education, many of whom have gone on to the highest level in both their sporting and professional careers. In the 21st century, there really is no reason for student-athletes to be forced into choosing one avenue over another – following a ‘dual career’ is now a genuine option.

“At the Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games last year an amazing 67 medals were won by athletes who have benefitted from TASS support. That really helps to show the impact of the scheme and the difference it is making for athletes at a crucial time in their development.”

Through a network of experienced professionals across England, TASS helps talented young athletes by providing vital support in areas such as strength and conditioning, psychology, and lifestyle guidance alongside a flexible approach to study.

Phil Smith, Director of Sport at Sport England, said: “It takes more than talent and dedication to reach the top, you need access to a whole range of support services such as coaching, nutrition and physiotherapy.

“TASS is one of the ways Sport England invests National Lottery funding to ensure that more young people can fulfil their sporting potential, whilst also gaining valuable qualifications.”

As an ambassador for TASS, Olympian Jonathan Edwards, a recipient of SportsAid support at the beginning of his career, continues to champion the programme. He said: “I’m thrilled to learn TASS has been awarded this significant investment.

“It’s a real testament to the brilliant work of TASS in helping these young athletes to achieve their potential in both their studies and sport. In the early years of my career I faced the same demands as the students TASS supports today, so I know how much their work makes an impact.”