Rob Richardson: Funding, football and media bingo

Great Britain’s sitting volleyball captain discusses the future of his programme, his work with Arsenal's football club and games he plays with the media. 28 Nov 2012
Rob Richardson

Rob Richardson, captain of Great Britain's sitting volleyball squad, sits inside the Arsenal locker room at Emirates Stadium in London.

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Sports Fest, the first ever ParalympicsGB festival of sport, takes place next week and I’m told that over 400 people have signed up to visit these road shows which is incredible.

It is a nervous time for all of the Paralympic sports in Great Britain currently, as in the next few weeks UK Sport will reveal the various sports funding for the next cycle through Rio 2016.

It's hugely important to every single sport involved, and I know that Great Britain Sitting Volleyball are no different, hoping to have something that will allow the sport to springboard from good to great in terms of performance.

As athletes, we hope we did our bit at the Games during the summer to show that we have the potential to win ourselves a medal in Rio, but currently we are in limbo as to what our programme will be in the lead-up to the European Championships next September.

On the other side of this, our sport and all the other Paralympic sports are noting an influx of potential new recruits which is amazing to see.

Sports Fest, the first ever ParalympicsGB festival of sport, takes place next week and I’m told that over 400 people have signed up to visit these road shows which is incredible.

I went to a similar Paralympic Potential Day back in 2009, and there were probably only around 60 people there, so it's a huge marker of the development of disability sport in this country and also of the increased confidence that disabled people are showing since the games in being keen to get involved in disability sport.

I know sitting volleyball will be there, so if you are going along to Guildford on December 3rd and 4th, make sure to give the sport a go.

Sadly I won't be there, though, as I'm working with Arsenal’s football club for the day as they look to set up a sitting volleyball club.

Arsenal have a thriving community sports team and as an Arsenal fan myself, I'm really excited to be involved with the creation of a team.

I thought my chance of one day captaining Arsenal had passed me by, but maybe there is still a chance, even if it is their volleyball team.

The club also invited me, David Weir, Will Bayley and a few other Paralympians to a match after the Games finished, too, including a full tour of the stadium, meeting team manager Arsene Wenger and being introduced onto the pitch just before the match started – another ambition fulfilled.

Finally, in other news, it will come as no surprise to everyone that athletes are extremely competitive in everything that we do, so whilst we are in a short lull of volleyball competition post-London, a few of us have taken to other ways to get our competitive fix.

Media bingo, as we call it, involves carefully getting selected words or phrases into interviews and other media - nothing rude obviously, but something obscure enough to make it challenging.

It isn't a new thing, either. England's footballers famously did something similar with pop songs during the World Cup in 1998.

It's become an Olympians vs. Paralympians battle, too, with teammate Ben Hall and I taking on British Olympic volleyball players Ciara Michel and Lucy Wicks, and it was first blood to the girls when Ciara managed to get the word “sausage” into this interview.

The next phrase to go in is “vacuum cleaner.”

Now, if only I could find a way of getting that published somewhere …