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Page last updated at 06:00 GMT, Friday, 1 October 2010 07:00 UK

British volleyball teams lose all public funding

By Nick Hope
BBC Olympic Sports Reporter

Volleyball players in action
Two of GB's volleyball teams face life without public funding

Public funding for Britain's women's indoor volleyball and men's beach volleyball teams has been withdrawn.

The cut, announced earlier but which took effect on 1 October, threatens the teams' 2012 Olympic participation.

"This will have a massive impact on our preparations - without finance we can't enter or put on events," GB Volleyball coach Audrey Cooper told BBC Sport.

All six Olympic and Paralympic volleyball teams have automatic host-country qualification for London 2012.

Volleyball was one of eight sports, which had their funding slashed at the beginning of 2009 because of UK Sport's £50m budget shortfall.

The British Volleyball Federation has subsequently taken the decision to withdraw all remaining public finance from the men's beach and women's indoor volleyball teams, to allow greater support for those teams with "the greatest performance potential".

Cooper, who has been with the programme since 2006, says she faces a struggle to keep her role alive.

"In essence, after Friday [1 October] I shall have no full-time job. We are still working on a deal to try to ensure that I stay on in a part-time role, which will involve me trying to find new backers for the team," she said.

Volleyball women pedalling European dream

In August, the team embarked on a 272-mile bike ride from Sheffield to London in the hope of raising the £250,000 needed to keep their Olympic dreams alive.

"The aim of the ride was to promote the sport, get some money in and see if there was anyone out there who was willing to work with us," Cooper added.

"We had some great publicity and made around £12,000, but the main disappointment was that no major backer came out of it and we are still looking for sponsorship."

Of the 18 women's indoor volleyball squad members, all but two have now secured professional contracts in Europe.

Nicky Osbourne has remained in Sheffield to continue with the final year of her medical studies, while Rachel Laybourne is still awaiting responses from the numerous teams with whom she had trials over the summer.

"It's been really tough, nothing has been coming into my bank account because athletes' performance finance finished in July," Laybourne said.

"I've had to pay for myself to travel to places like Poland, there's been no support and that's the hardest thing.

606: DEBATE

"I had a call on Monday from a team in Holland and then on Tuesday there was nothing and my agent told me to 'hang in there'. That's all I can do at the moment."

Laybourne's coach remains optimistic she will be signed up in the coming weeks - or soon after the World Championships in November, which has delayed the start of many volleyball leagues around the continent.

Despite the struggles the teams face in the coming months, Richard Callicott, President of the British Volleyball Federation, still hopes both will be able to participate in the London Olympics.

"We are out there talking to as many people as we can, trying to raise enough money so that those programmes can continue," Callicott told BBC London.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for players in a home Games."



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see also
Volleyball women pedalling European dream
26 Jul 10 |  Volleyball
Volleyball boss vow over cash
24 Sep 10 |  2012
Slovakia end Britain's Euro hopes
28 May 10 |  Volleyball
GB volleyballers seek 2012 funds
24 Jul 10 |  Volleyball


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