BECKENHAM boy and England Under-18 hockey prospect Josh Tikare believes that SportsAid’s Next Generation programme, supported by Aldi, will allow him to take the next step in his sporting career, writes Jonny Bray. 

SportsAid supports over 1,000 young athletes each year by providing a financial award to help with training and competition costs, while also delivering personal development opportunities to many athletes through workshop sessions.

Aldi are now working in partnership with SportsAid to support 20 young athletes on their journey to becoming future Olympians and Paralympians – including Tikare – and helping them to eat like a champion.

The 18-year-old star has been selected as a SportsAid athlete after leading Whitgift School to the Independent Schools Hockey Cup and training with England's Under-21s side. 

And ahead of moving from his secondary school in Croydon to Oxford University, Tikare believes the funding and mentoring opportunities will help him develop into a better athlete. 

"Aldi's SportsAid programme will allow me to take more control and support myself a bit more rather than always relying on my parents," said Tikare, speaking after filming a new TV advertising campaign for Aldi, who work with Team GB and ParalympicsGB on the Get Set to Eat Fresh programme, helping school children eat healthier and live an active lifestyle.

"I felt honoured to be one of SportsAid's athletes. I was excited and just really happy to have been chosen as one of the athletes. 

"And now I'm really excited about what comes with it and what could come from it, so I'm really lucky to be involved and to be chosen. 

"I think I want to be a well-rounded athlete. It is really important, especially in this day and age, to be something more than someone who is just good at sport. 

"There is a lot more that comes with it, so it is really great that SportsAid and Aldi put on different workshops and different initiatives to help us develop in those areas where we may not have had the opportunity to before.

"I just want to take advantage of those opportunities." 

Each year, athletes are nominated to SportsAid by the national governing bodies of more than 60 sports based on set criteria.

The Aldi-supported athletes will be receiving a £2,000 award through SportsAid. Aldi will also support their 20 athletes with a £25 monthly voucher, to fuel them through training, competitions and to future Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Tikare has also represented England at Under-16 level and shown his leadership skills while representing his peers as his school's Student Voice and Deputy Vice-Captain. 

After playing rugby as a winger, he took up hockey, admitting that he found life out wide a tad lonely. 

He added: "I had tried hockey before Whitgift, but when I started at the school, I realised that there were lots of opportunities to play hockey, and I just thought I would make the most of it. 

"I just enjoyed it, and that led to me keeping at it and developing. 

"I was originally a rugby player, but when I realised that I enjoyed hockey more, I stuck with it, and the rest is history.

 "One of the reasons I enjoyed hockey a lot more is because it is very fast-paced, even when you don't have the ball. 

"I was a winger when I played rugby, and a lot of the time, I was waiting out wide, cold, hoping the ball would come to me!"

Aldi is the Official Supermarket Partner of Team GB and ParalympicsGB and have partnered with Team GB since 2015, ParalympicsGB since 2022 and will be supporting them through to Paris 2024.