The emotional and practical impacts of funding withdrawal

21 May 2014

Water polo’s National Performance Director has spoken at length about the hidden impact of UK Sport’s shock funding about-turn.

Graeme Thompson, speaking after the British Gas GBR women’s team’s dramatic victory over world champions and Olympic silver medallists Spain, said that, given the circumstances, the victory was ‘bittersweet’.

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‘On the one hand, it showed that we are making really good progress and proved we can compete with the best in the world,’ said Thompson, who has himself been made redundant in the wake of the funding loss.

'On the other, we know that the programme we have been building since the renewed investment received in April 2013 will cease to exist following UK Sport’s decision not to keep funding women’s water polo.’

Earlier, Thompson said it was important for those making decisions about funding to ‘get them right the first time – not just to ensure public funds are used in an efficient and effective manner but because of the huge human impact when prior commitments are reversed.

‘All bar one of my staff relocated from across the country to Manchester to join the programme,’ he told the Inside the Games website. ‘Our head coach brought his young family across from Greece only last November.

‘Even so, we all acknowledge that abrupt change can happen in any professional working sphere. I know that all these people will work through our dramatically changed circumstances and add value to future sports organisations.’

But the biggest impact is emotional, said Thompson. ‘For example, I received the news of the failure of our representation direct to the UK Sport Board as I landed back at Heathrow from a trip to Russia. Just 18 hours earlier, two 17-year-old squad members had made their senior international debuts. Telling them and the other players and staff the bad news was one of the worst moments of my professional life. I was, in effect, informing them that their Olympic hopes and dreams were over even before they had properly begun.’

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