Celebrating a Decade of Sporting Success with SportsAid

Published April 28, 2023 | 5 min read

Since 2014, RBC has partnered with UK charity, SportsAid, to help nurture the next generation of British sports stars.

In 2016, Imani-Lara Lansiquot had ambitions to compete on the world stage as a professional sprinter. But she knew it wouldn’t come easy.

She was making great progress on the track and knew she had it in her to contend with the best. There was just one problem, she wasn’t in a financial position to be able to train and compete at an elite level.

It’s an all too frequent story for young athletes: in the absence of government funding, who supports them on their journey to the top?

For Imani-Lara, SportsAid and RBC were able to provide not just funding, but personal guidance from an RBC ‘buddy’ and a network of professional support to help her chase her sprinting ambitions. “I’ll never forget finally being able to go on a major training camp, get physio, and train with professional groups for the first time - these are the differences that have such a big impact on your success as an athlete,” she explains.

Imani-Lara (centre) with fellow SportsAid alumni Lutalo Muhammad (left) and Shanice Beckford-Norton (right)

Imani-Lara (centre) with fellow SportsAid alumni Lutalo Muhammad (left) and Shanice Beckford-Norton (right)

With the right support and access to the best coaching, Imani-Lara soon made a name for herself in the sprinting world. “I didn’t have a world ranking at the time, and then a year later I was third in the world and that really changed my career. I’m massively thankful to RBC and SportsAid, because without their partnership I wouldn’t be the athlete I am today.”

Imani-Lara is now a key member of Team GB’s athletics team. She’s not only realised her dream of competing at an Olympic Games, but she also took to the podium after winning bronze in the women’s 4x100m relay at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

And did we mention she’s the fourth fastest British woman of all time?


A decade of partnership with SportsAid

It’s stories like Imani-Lara’s that epitomise the ethos of SportsAid – encouraging, enabling and empowering young British athletes to be the country's next Olympic, Paralympic, Commonwealth and world champions. And it’s working - SportsAid alumni won a staggering 141 medals for Great Britain at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The ethos of helping young people succeed is shared by RBC and has been a natural synergy between the two organisations since they first partnered in 2014. “It’s been a long-standing commitment at RBC, to not just support sport, but young people as a whole,” says Dave Thomas, CEO of RBC Europe. “We recognise the challenges younger generations are now faced with, whether that’s economic, environmental, or other societal issues, and we have a responsibility to support young people to overcome those challenges - it’s something we are very passionate about.”

Athletes supported by SportsAid are the brightest sporting prospects in their age groups and they show huge levels of dedication, commitment and sacrifice in pursuing their sporting ambitions. But it’s their work off the field and by parents and carers that is often overlooked.

“Our athletes cover 43 miles, on average, under their own steam in training every week,” says Tim Lawler, CEO of SportsAid. “Their families will also spend over £7,000 each year in meeting the costs of their child’s sport, which means without the charity's support, many of these young prospects would face a tough decision on whether to continue training and competing.”

It’s this funding gap that RBC helps to bridge, annually supporting 50 of the most talented young British athletes with financial assistance, recognition and personal development opportunities to help them fulfil their potential. Each athlete is awarded £1,000 which contributes towards training and competition costs.

In total, RBC has supported over 470 athletes and raised over £1 million for SportsAid since the partnership began in 2014. The money has enabled SportsAid to offer enhanced experiences to its athletes and provide extra support for their parents.

For Lawler, the partnership with RBC has felt more like a joint venture. “Ten years is a substantial milestone for a corporate organisation working with a charity, particularly considering the external challenges we’ve all faced because of the pandemic. Despite this, RBC has continued to support us and help us evolve.”

Lawler cites the expansion of its athlete and parent workshop programme as a key example of how RBC’s support has helped it to improve the reach and impact of its operations. “Thanks to funding from RBC, we’ve been able to make our athlete and parent workshops more accessible in areas of the country we would normally be unable to reach. We can now engage all our athletes with the specialists they need to enhance their performance, such as sleep therapists, nutritionists and media professionals. They need to really understand these key elements if they’re to reach the top of their fields and have successful careers in sport.”


The power of a network

Perhaps the key to the longevity and success of RBC and SportsAid’s partnership has been the proactive involvement of RBC employees, or ‘Team RBC’, who have directly fundraised over £340,000 for SportsAid.

“For me it’s the personal ‘skin in the game’ that everyone at RBC shows. So many employees get involved, volunteer and take on challenges. It’s something we really value,” says Lawler.

Through group challenge events like RBC Ride for the Kids, where employees cycled hundreds of miles to Bruges and Brussels, to more local activities such as #BeAGoodSportsAid Day, which saw raffles, fitness classes, and cycle challenges throughout the RBC London office, employees have embraced the spirit of SportsAid to raise vital funds for the charity.

“There’s no point in us supporting a charity by just writing cheques,” says Thomas. “It’s got to be a cause employees get involved with and can add value to, and SportsAid has been a great example of that. We’re constantly changing how we engage with not only the athletes, but our own colleagues and communities - this helps keep the partnership fresh and gets people excited about it.”

One of the most integral aspects of the partnership is the buddy scheme, where employees are paired with award recipients to offer mentoring and guidance outside of their usual support network. Buddies become an impartial and trusted point of contact who follow the progress of the athletes - supporting them and passing on news of their achievements - while imparting important life-skills for the young sports stars to help them in their future endeavours.

“Competing at an elite level is mentally draining and means, at times, athletes can have a pretty intense relationship with coaches and parents,” says Lawler. “It’s good for the athletes to have another person they can talk to and offer a different perspective.”

SportsAid’s 2023 cohort of athletes supported by RBC

SportsAid’s 2023 cohort of athletes supported by RBC



For Imani-Lara, the support she received from SportsAid and RBC changed her life. But time doesn’t stand still. There are hundreds and thousands of aspiring young British athletes set to rise through the national ranks with hopes of international glory in the coming years, and many of them will need the invaluable support SportsAid can offer.

For all those young athletes with dreams of future success, Imani-Lara has some guiding words. “Be absolutely fearless, focus on what you can control, and see failures as part of your learning process. Be open to all kinds of outcomes and trust yourself, because no matter if you win or lose, you learn so much along the way. Remember that if you can see it, you can be it.”

Find out more about SportsAid and the athletes it supports.

Our partnership with SportsAid support RBC’s commitment to helping clients thrive and communities prosper. In addition, RBC Europe partners with a number of community projects, charity partners and responsible organisations to raise money for worthwhile causes, protect the environment and support local communities. Find out more at www.rbccm.com/europe.