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Funding cuts start to bite

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Hi, I'm Huw, a member of the British Handball Association's World Class Development Programme.

You can follow my progress on 606 over the coming months (and hopefully years) as I try to make the squad for London 2012.


When I last posted a blog in February it was about the news of funding cuts that we had just received from UK Sport. The impact that this decision has had on our programme has been immense.

Since the last blog we have lost our centralised full-time programme, lost our coaching staff, lost all our support staff barring one or two full-timers reduced to part-time, lost a sense of direction, and sometimes lost the will to live!

It has been a turbulent time and it has been incredibly difficult to stay motivated to continue in the whole project.

The British Handball Association (BHA) have replaced the coaching team, but without the funding they have found it difficult to provide a training environment that is sufficient for our required development.

We now only meet up as a GB squad during designated 'international weeks', just like any other national team – this is not ideal and certainly isn't going to help us catch up with other national sides.

In between these GB camps, we are supposed to have found professional contracts and daily training at elite European clubs. However, the economic climate has seen many handball clubs go bankrupt and, even at the top level, contracts are proving pretty scarce.

Therefore, for someone like myself, a development athlete with perhaps potential in a few years' time, it would be a huge risk for a club to offer me any financial contract. So it has left many of our squad with little options and undesirable training situations.

Thankfully, the sports academy in Aarhus, Denmark, offered a deal which allows many of us to continue our training in a similar way to the previous couple of years.

This was a lifeline and has enabled many of us to return here and keep the Olympic dream alive. However, it is something that us athletes have organised ourselves without the centralised world-class programme providing it for us.

We are under no illusions about the limited resources of the programme, and are fully aware that the coming year is going to be pretty tough.

On the plus side, we are beginning to play more international matches and this is good motivation, as well as a good way of monitoring our progress as a team.

In June 2009, we played against Greece, a team who had risen to good international standings (like we aspire to) after they hosted the Olympics in 2004.

The results of these friendly matches were not victories for us but the performances and experience we gain from playing such nations is invaluable.

On the horizon for us are some international fixtures in the Autumn, and then World Championship qualifiers in the new year.

The longer-term future, though, looks more bleak now because of the disappearance of funds, and who knows whether I will be writing this blog all the way until the Olympics...

Huw

PS
The GB women’s squad are playing against Finland at the Echo Arena, Liverpool, on Saturday 26 September – tickets still available – anyone in the area (or further afield) please go along and lend your support to the girls.

Latest 10 comments

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posted Sep 29, 2009

Oh TME, I agree about the difficulty in breaking into the mainstream.

Would you class basketball as mainstream in the UK?

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comment by G-T-S (U13823400)

posted Sep 29, 2009

Hockey TME?!! <laugh>

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posted Sep 30, 2009

Rounders, TME ??

And, Huw, on a serious note.....have you had that shave yet ??

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posted Sep 30, 2009

Good blog Ashwood.... ;-)

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comment by G-T-S (U13823400)

posted Oct 1, 2009

RHCP RULE!!!

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comment by Kubali (U13723610)

posted Oct 5, 2009

I don't think Huw has shaved. I think I saw him with some other athletes posing for a picture when a new funding deal for 2012 was announced.

Huw - you need to shave!

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posted Oct 19, 2009

Keep it Huw. I'm contractually obliged to disagree with anything uno posts....

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comment by Kubali (U13723610)

posted Oct 19, 2009

Huw if you want to look good then shave it off. Even David Beckham can't get away with a beard.

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posted Oct 20, 2009

Without the beard Huw only looks about 11, and that's not a good look for a man finishing his PhD.

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