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German boost for British handball

By Matt Slater

British Handball's London 2012 dream
British handball has made big strides but now badly needs financial help

Britain's handball bosses are in talks with a leading German club in a bid to keep the Olympic programme on track.

SG Flensburg-Handewitt contacted the British team after its London 2012 funding was cut in early December.

The Germans are keen to tap into the growing British handball market, while Team GB needs all the help it can get.

"It is early days but we look forward to discussing sporting and commercial opportunities during our visit," said British Handball's Paul Goodwin.

SG Flensburg-Handewitt are based in northern Germany, not far from the Danish handball academy in Aarhus that British Handball has used to hot-house its squad since the programme was started from scratch in 2005.

That initiative began shortly after London won the right to stage the 2012 Olympics, effectively earning Team GB a place in every event - an opportunity British Handball, the British Olympic Association and many other advocates for Olympic sport in this country hope to grab with both hands.

With their club philosophy of 'passion without borders' it was fitting that SG Flensburg-Handewitt approached us

British Handball's Paul Goodwin
The prospect of that happening, however, was thrown into doubt when a 50m shortfall in Team GB's planned budget for 2012 became apparent last year. As a result, handball is one of 12 Olympic and Paralympic sports still waiting to hear how much money they will be allocated for their Olympic preparations.

Those sports discover their fates on 29 January when UK Sport, the agency that distributes lottery and public money to elite sport, announces how the remaining 11.5m in the kitty will be distributed.

Given the fact the handball programme has been running an already lean operation on about 1m a year, considerable cuts are inevitable.

Development squads for 2016 have already been mothballed and it is only the generosity of the Danish authorities that have enabled Britain's 30 full-time players to return to Aarhus and continue their handball educations, practically free of charge.

That situation cannot continue indefinitely, though, and partnerships like the one proposed by SG Flensburg-Handewitt appear to be the best way forward.

Great Britain's Lynn McCafferty, Holly Lam-Moores and Britt Goodwin celebrate
Britain's handball stars are now holding their own on the international stage
The German club, currently sixth in the Bundesliga, are believed to be impressed by the British players' progress in Denmark, so playing opportunities for Britain's best are a possibility, as our commercial tie-ups, particularly access to the growing UK handball scene for SG Flensburg-Handewitt's kit suppliers.

"With their club philosophy of 'passion without borders' it was fitting that they approached us," said Goodwin.

Situated just five miles from Denmark, the club plays at an 8,000-capacity arena and have an annual budget of nearly 5m. But the German side is just one of many continental teams British officials are talking to about places for their most talented players.

In the meantime, discussions continue with UK Sport about how much money the handball programme can expect when its current financing ends in March. Their next meeting is 12 January.

Handball, a huge sport in continental Europe, has been on the Olympic schedule since 1972.

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see also
Olympic funding reaction
03 Dec 08 |  Olympics
Sports handed London 2012 budgets
03 Dec 08 |  Olympics
2012 funding sport-by-sport
03 Dec 08 |  Olympics
Fears remain over 2012 cash cuts
02 Dec 08 |  Olympics
GB pleased with handball showing
30 Nov 08 |  Olympics
GB handball issues Olympic plea
24 Oct 08 |  Olympics
British women win handball title
20 Oct 08 |  Olympics
GB get to grips with handball
18 Feb 08 |  Handball

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