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Page last updated at 14:49 GMT, Tuesday, 22 September 2009 15:49 UK

Handballers paying their own way

By Martin Gough

Holly Lam-Moores
Lam-Moores is confident GB can overcome Finland this week

Great Britain's Olympic handball teams are struggling for funding and sponsorship with three years to go before the Games in London.

Handball's funding was cut in January by 51% to £1.45m until 2012 and national team players now only have their kit and travel paid for.

"We're paying our own way to the Olympics," said wing Holly Lam-Moores.

"I have a coaching job, I'm training twice a day and my parents are giving me money every month."

Until January, GB players were all based at a central academy in Arhus, Denmark but many have now been forced to look for club contracts around Europe.

Life in Norway was not what we expected - there were eight of us living in one small house, sleeping two to a bed

Holly Lam-Moores

Warrington teenager Lam-Moores is currently one of four Brits playing in Asker, Norway on an amateur basis, although her accommodation with a Norwegian family is paid for.

Eight players moved from the GB academy to Asker but Lam-Moores said: "Life in Norway was not what we expected - there were eight of us living in one small house, sleeping two to a bed."

Two of those players, including Lam-Moores' younger sister Chloe, have subsequently quit the international programme, and two others have left Asker to take club contracts elsewhere.

GB handball team confident ahead of play-off

"When we were in Denmark we had training facilities on our doorstep, we didn't have to pay for food, we had a daily allowance; it was just perfect," added Lam-Moores.

"Now we're more independent but we've had to get jobs. With training, I'm out of the house from 9am to 10pm.

"My sister has gone back to her sixth form. It all got too much for her and she didn't want it enough for that."

GB's women face Finland in a two-leg European Championships pre-qualifying fixture this week.

606: DEBATE
Huw Goodwin - GB men's team

The first leg is in Helsinki on Wednesday, with the return match at Liverpool's Echo Arena on Saturday evening.

Victory over Finland would put them into the qualifying tournament, going up against 2003 world champions France, Austria and Iceland for a place in Denmark and Norway in December 2010.

That would mean exposure for the players to higher-quality opponents as they bid to be competitive at London 2012, which they qualify for as hosts.

But it would also bring exposure for the sport in the UK, with the British Handball Association searching for additional funding.

"The BHA is working hard on finding sponsors because I can't rely on my parents forever," said Lam-Moores.

"If we beat Finland, it will be a massive learning curve because France are former world champions and the other teams are on the next level above us.

"But we we'll be getting our names out there, saying 'Watch out, GB's about."

We have improved dramatically in the space of 18 months; I'm confident we can come out with two wins and qualify

Holly Lam-Moores

Lam-Moores refuses to blame UK Sport, who cut the level of funding in the face of a cash shortfall, or anyone else for the change in circumstances and remains positive over the team's chances.

"We improved more than any other national team in the two or three years we had funding but we're not as big as athletics or football.

"We don't get things like nutritionists or physios but we're all still working just as hard as we were a year ago.

"It has made me more motivated because I want to show everyone they've made a mistake by not backing us."

And she is confident they can beat Finland, who they lost to in March 2008, over two legs.

"We have improved dramatically in the space of 18 months. I'm confident we can come out with two wins and qualify.

"We'll try and keep them at bay here [in Helsinki] - if we lose only do it by two or three - then in the home game win by a lot more."



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see also
Olympic sports hit by funding cut
29 Jan 09 |  Olympics
Olympic funding reaction
03 Dec 08 |  Olympics
2012 funding sport-by-sport
29 Jan 09 |  Olympics
GB handball issues Olympic plea
24 Oct 08 |  Olympics
GB women finish fourth in Cyprus
31 Mar 08 |  Handball
Guide to handball
22 Jan 09 |  Olympics


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