Sir Clive Woodward has hit out at UK Sport’s decision to cut funding for team sports including basketball, labelling it “completely baffling”.
In a column in the Daily Mail, England’s World Cup winning rugby coach and former British Olympic Association’s Director of Elite Performance wrote:
“As someone who has worked at the very heart of elite sport and performance, I have sympathy and support for these sports, which include basketball, handball and volleyball, which all attracted massive crowds last summer.
“In terms of potential medal winners at Rio in 2016, those who hold the purse strings probably got it right as judged by their own very strict criteria but we must not develop tunnel vision focused only on the podium.
“We must adopt a broader and longer-term vision and aspiration rather than leave ourselves accused of developing an unhealthy lust for medals at all costs, and invest and develop other sports, especially team sports on the back of our Olympic and Paralympic triumph.”
Continuing on, he said that differentiation is needed between team sports and individual sports:
“It is much more difficult to win medals in team sports compared to individual sports and, traditionally, they do not add many medals to the final medal table because they are not multi-discipline events like rowing, cycling boxing, swimming and athletics. In team sports like basketball you usually only have the men’s team and women’s team.
“Yet, if you analyse the low cost and highly accessible aspect of most team sports, compared to other sports and those which sit comfortably in our inner communities, it is completely baffling to me, why funding has been completely stopped in this area.”
A petition, which can be found here, has been started on the official government website to urge UK Sport to reconsider their decision. If 100,000 signatures are reached, the topic will be considered for debate in the House of Commons.
Read Sir Clive’s full article over at the Daily Mail’s official website.