GREAT Britain captain Bobby White has described UK Sport’s decision to award handball no funding in the lead-up to Rio 2016 as a devastating blow.
The news that GB’s men and women’s teams would receive no Olympic funding for elite athletes came a day after Sport England announced that handball would receive £1.2 million to help it capitalise on the interest generated by the Olympics.
That funding for England Handball will help increase participation at ‘grass roots’ level, but the country’s leading players will once again be forced to pay for their own training and travel to tournaments.
White, who heads up a Handball Centre of Excellence based in Bedford, described the England Handball funding as a “token gesture” and believes the sport at the top level has been pushed right back to where it started pre-London 2012.
“It’s hugely disappointing not to receive any money at all,” said White, who recently raised enough money to travel to Greece for GB’s first competitive match after the Games.
“It’s devastating for our cause. We’re back where we were before the Olympic programme started in 2005. I have lots of good young players doing well in the sport, but now they have nothing to aspire to.”
White admits that GB were unlikely to quality for Rio 2016, even with a good level of financial backing from UK Sport. But he says the long-term aim was to peak for the 2020 Games.
“We have always had an eight-year plan because that’s how long it takes to cement yourself as a good international team, and be able to challenge for a medal. I think we could have done that – even if we received just half a million worth of funding.”