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Paralympic Sports: Sitting Volleyball

Rob Richardson: Funding Paralympic sport

Great Britain’s sitting volleyball captain Rob Richardson discusses the current state of his programme’s funding. 04 Mar 2013
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Rob Richardson

Great Britain's Rob Richardson returns a shot against Morocco during a preliminary round sitting volleyball match against Morocco on Day 4 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

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By Rob Richardson

Now is a time for us to focus on what we can control, which is to keep training hard and focus our efforts toward the club season in Europe and in turn the European Championships in Poland this September, where we hope to improve.

In my last blog, I talked about the upcoming UK Sport funding announcement and how that would define the type of programme that would be in place for both the men's and women's British sitting volleyball teams on the road to Rio 2016.

Well, after the announcement in December and further meetings in January, we now know that we have been unsuccessful in winning any funding at all, which is obviously far from ideal.

First, I will deal with my thoughts on it all.

I was hugely disappointed by the decision. I felt that the squad had made huge strides since its formation in 2007 and that whilst we may not medal in Rio we believed that qualification and a high finish was achievable and that for 2020 we would be in the mix for medals.

UK Sport have their “No Compromise” approach to funding, which even though it has worked against my team, I agree with it. It is the reason ParalympicsGB performed so well in London, but my concern is that it perhaps doesn't accommodate team sports adequately.

I know there is some fairly high level debate taking place on this issue at the moment, with support from Sir Clive Woodward.

As British sitting volleyball athletes, we can't just sit back and feel sorry for ourselves and blame others.

Now is a time for us to focus on what we can control, which is to keep training hard and focus our efforts toward the club season in Europe and in turn the European Championships in Poland this September, where we hope to improve.

Of course, we won't be training daily like we have been leading into London 2012, but we can fit training around jobs in the evenings and train on weekends in order to keep the hours up and hopefully look to raise some private sponsorship in order to pay for tournament entries, training venues and the like.

At this stage, if any interested companies, people, charities like the sound of supporting sitting volleyball in Great Britain, please do get in touch.

(Now everyone can please read on, the shameless request is over.)

For any young athletes who want to get involved in sitting volleyball, it's worth pointing out that we are holding some open training sessions and talent identification days as we look to establish a development team and in turn bolster our men's and women's national teams.

Have a look on Volleyball England’s Facebook and Twitter pages for more details.

Finally, away from volleyball, I wanted to send my congratulations to Richard Whitehead on the birth of his little girl Zarah. Rich is a good mate of mine and we used to room together back in the day before he got into running the 200m, and he deserves all the success he has had, a true inspiration to so many.

Being a father myself, I can safely say it is one of the toughest and most rewarding things in the world. My little one, Grace, is two years old and finds it hilarious to disappear off with my prosthetic leg every morning, so Rich can look forward to that little gem I'm sure!

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