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Team GB Womens Water Polo Loses Funding

Niamh Spence talks with a team member about the 'devastating' loss of funding

Written by . Published on March 19th 2014.

Team GB Womens Water Polo Loses Funding

Update: Wednesday 19 March

British Swimming has announced it will consider a formal appeal following UK Sport’s announcement that Water Polo and Synchronised Swimming have been unsuccessful after additional representations were made against a loss of funding for the women’s Olympic sports.

“This is a very dark and sad day for British sport – especially for women’s sport,” said British Swimming Chief Executive David Sparkes.

Water Polo player Angie Winstanley-Smith, fresh from competing in Russia for the Great Britain team, commented: “It’s a sad day for Great Britain team sports and especially women’s sports. We are absolutely devastated to hear UK Sport is standing by last month’s decision and withdrawing all funding.

“We did our best to get our story heard and have had overwhelming support around Britain and the rest of the World. At this point in time we don’t know the full impact this decision will have on elite Water Polo but it is fair to assume that times will be hard.

“We can be proud of how far we have come although my initial feelings are that our legacy from London will soon be forgotten. I know a lot of the girls have some very difficult decisions to make about their futures.”

IMAGINE spending most of your life working and training for something, only to have your chances dashed by circumstances beyond your control. Heartbreaking stuff.

"It is an extremely dark day for women’s sport in this country as [the withdrawal] could well signal the death of these historic Olympic sports in Britain."

That’s how Ella Chadderton of the Great Britain’s women's water polo feels. “I really don’t know what’s going to happen,” says the 20-year-old player from Oldham. Only twelve months ago, the women's Water Polo team were awarded increased funding for the Olympics which equated to £4.54 million. Now that funding has been withdrawn by the governing body UK Sport. It is believed that this might be due to UK Sport's doubts of the team winning medalling at Rio, and even at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

The team lined up at the London 2012 OlympicsThe team lined up at the London 2012 Olympics

A member of the team since 2009, Chadderton has represented Great Britain on numerous occasions and the women's water polo team is ranked as one of the top ten teams in the world. It was after qualifying in January for the European Championships that the news came of the team’s funding being pulled.

“We came back on such a high and then found out the funding was gone," explains Chadderton. "It's a loss of everything including the high performance centre and the coaches."

It's clear from our conversation that Chadderton is at a loss of what to do if funding doesn't come back to her sport. Take to social media and kick up a storm of course?

Ella ChaddertonElla Chadderton"The Facebook and Twitter page have really helped to raise awareness of what we're going through. We're doing everything we can and hoping to get local MP's involved also."

The Facebook page gathered over 1,000 likes within twelve hours of going live and the Twitter page is hoping to further raise awareness of how much the withdrawal of funding will impact the team and the sport. 

"Everyone is trying their hardest and we're just trying to keep going and concentrate on matches and focus on the Commonwealth Games this summer."

If the funding remains cut, then what will this mean for Chadderton and her team mates?

"It will mean no Olympics for us," says Chadderton instantly. The Rio Olympics in 2016 might be an exciting event for many of Great Britain's athletes but for the women's water polo team it won't even be on their horizon unless their funding is reinstated. It's devastating for the group of athletes who have worked and trained hard, only to lose their chance of going to Rio.

British Swimming is also fighting the corner for women's water polo. Chief Executive David Sparkes released a statement following the funding withdrawal, in which he said: "We are deeply disappointed and shocked at the decision to remove funding from the sports of Women’s Water Polo and Synchronised Swimming.

“While British Swimming welcomes UK Sport’s on-going support for Diving and Para-swimming, as well as recognising the massive turn around in the direction of the Swimming programme, it is an extremely dark day for women’s sport in this country as [the withdrawal] could well signal the death of these historic Olympic sports in Britain."

The team (and British Swimming) is hoping to appeal the withdrawal and will meet with UK Sport on 10 March.

Women's Water Polo

The Great Britain women's water polo team trains at the Aquatic centre on Oxford Road, Manchester. 

The sport itself involves two teams aiming to score goals at opposite ends of the pool. Each team can have seven players in the pool at any one time, one of which is their goalkeeper.

Players cannot touch the bottom of the pool whilst playing and instead tread water the entire team. They can only hold the ball with one hand (two if they're the goalkeeper) and can only have posession of the ball for 30 seconds at a time.

Each match comprises of four quarters lasting eight minutes. However if the ball is not in play then the clock is stopped and quarters can last an average of twelve minutes.

Follow Ella Chadderton and her team's campaign via their Twitter page: @SaveWomensWP

Or check out their Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/SaveWomensWP

Follow Niamh Spence at @missnspence

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