Tough times for British sport in the future?

With it being election day I thought I’d write a suitably political blog. While the result of today’s election will obviously have far reaching implications on education, health, defence and potentially parliamentary reform, the primary battleground during the 6 week run in has been the economy. The current budget deficit and the recent rumblings in Greece coupled with predictions of very tough times ahead for the UK make me pretty nervous. A major concern for me as a strength and conditioning coach is therefore what will happen to the funding of British sport in the coming years.

The main sport I work with is skiing and, as anyone who read the headlines around the Olympics this winter knows, it’s not a particularly well funded sport. This is the case for a good number of sports and I think that with large cutbacks across the board expected, those sports could suffer. For the most part it will be the future talent who will ultimately be the ones who pay the price. Every sport is going to keep it’s elite athletes in competition and direct funding towards them especially with 2012 on the horizon. The first area where cuts, if necessary, will be directed is at the sub elite, pathway or junior level. Without proper funding, these athletes will miss out on the necessary coaching and support needed to nurture their talent towards elite competition and while recently British sport has enjoyed a pretty solid conveyor belt of success in recent years, there’s a chance that we will see a lost generation 6-10 years down the line.

Obviously I hope this won’t be the case and I’m not normally a pessimistic person at all, but I can’t see there being no effect on athlete funding in the coming years. Fingers crossed I’m wrong!

Neil Welch

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