Coach’s fury at handball funding cut

A decision by a sports body to withdraw funding for handball has been condemned by a leading sports coach in Cannock.

Nenad Popovic said he now feared for the sporting future of two of the town’s international players.

The success of handball at London 2012 led to a surge in membership in both the senior and junior sections of Olympia Cannock Handball Club.

But the British men’s and women’s handball teams have had their £2.92 million funding to support elite athletes cut completely after finishing last in their groups at London 2012.

Demand

Mr Popovic, coach of the Olympia Cannock Handball Club, said: “To say I am extremely disappointed at the decision would be an understatement.”

The club, based at Cardinal Griffin RC High School since the 1970s, was forced to expand to two more sites to cater for the demand. A possible fourth venue, at Norton Canes, is also on the cards.

Among the sport’s rising stars are Cannock-based Ryan Goodwin, aged 19, and 17-year-old Harriet Richards, who are both in the GB squad.

Mr Popovic said: “What is the future for them without funding? To claim that the sport failed to live up to expectation and underperformed is total rubbish and it hides behind significant failings by UK Sport.

“The whole squad for 2012 feel let down. They committed seven years of their lives to ‘the dream’, knowing that they couldn’t win but in the hope that they would inspire others, that it would provide a platform for future generations. The dream has been shattered.”