Holly Manders

Women’s football is on the rise in England and Teesside midfielder Holly Manders is hoping to join the fun thanks to financial support from GVC Holdings and SportsAid.

Manders is a beneficiary of GVC’s three-year partnership with the sports charity, helping young talent across the UK realise their potential.

Athletes get funding for training, travel and equipment, as well as mentoring by Olympians and Paralympians on topics such as nutrition and sports psychology.

Manders will ply her trade with Sunderland this season, with the FA Women’s Premier League team situated two divisions below the world’s best in the Super League.

The teenager will be hopeful of joining the top stars in the years to come, with her cause supported by her place on the GVC and SportsAid programme.

“The funding and support means a lot. I’m a student at university from a financial point of view, it means the world,” she said.

“It goes towards a lot of things. Coming down from the north, there can be a lot of travel expenses that build up so it’s a real boost for things like that.

“We do a lot of camps and training experiences so the funding can make a real difference. Those experiences make me a better player and it’s reassuring knowing that I don’t have to worry about them.

“It gives me a lot of confidence. I’ve believed in me but it’s nice knowing that other people are putting their faith in you and believe that you can achieve.”

The young athletes will be following in the footsteps of legendary figures such as Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Sir Mo Farah, Dame Sarah Storey and Ellie Simmonds OBE – all of whom received SportsAid support – and more recent beneficiaries including Dina Asher-Smith and Adam Peaty MBE.

The initiative is part of GVC’s Pitching In, a major new multi-million-pound investment programme designed to support and promote grassroots sports.

“I’ve been part of the England age group squads for a few years, which is really good,” Manders added. “I’ve been around lots of talented players and that’s been a really big part of my progression.

“I was the only person from the north so it was a great learning experience. I was playing with and against people from Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City so I was really able to learn a lot from that.

“I just want to keep progressing through the age groups and hopefully that will lead me to the first team.

“Doing that would mean everything to me, reaching the England team is what you dream of and it’s hard to describe how nice a feeling that would be.”

GVC is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. As part of this three-year partnership, GVC are supporting a diverse group of 50 UK athletes per year from a variety of spots and para-sports. Visit gvc-plc.com to find out more.