Olympic legacy promise goes up in smoke as Flames are forced to close their doors
PUBLISHED: 12:00 11 January 2013
Newham Flames handball team’s head coach Konrad Markwardt has accused London 2012 organisers of failing to fulfil their legacy promise, following the news the club is set to cease activity.
Due to a lack of local funding, coupled with failed attempts to recruit a senior team manager/chief executive, the handball club looks set to close its doors – just six months after the Olympic Games were held so successfully in the borough.
Flames intend to fulfil the rest of their London Handball League fixtures this season, but will no longer train and are set to abolish their youth development programmes.
And Markwardt has hit out at London 2012 legacy ambassador Lord Coe and the government for, what he believes, is a failure to deliver on their pre-Games promise.
“The London 2012 Olympics motto was ‘inspire a generation’ and now, quite frankly, the legacy of the Olympic Games will no longer be available in east London,” he said.
“At Newham Flames we have been advertising for someone to take charge of clubs’ affairs and help out with further development of our club.
“Unfortunately, no-one has come forward despite our best efforts and we are in a position where we cannot sustain our existence any longer and therefore we will cease most of our activities.
“Our youth development will have to stop and some of our young players from Cumberland School and All Saints School will lose their chance to develop their skills.
“The talented and hard working youngsters were eager to play in Under-18s league however, without support, that chance seems to be gone.
“What appeared to be a very promising position at the end of August, where straight after the Games we had two training sessions per week, it is now the complete opposite. I am personally very sad and I just wish more could have been done for this wonderful club.”
The announcement comes less than a month after UK Sport announced it would withdraw all central funding to elite players ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Britain’s men and women had previously received £2.92 million in funding, but, after both teams finished bottom of their respective groups at London 2012, their funding has been wiped out entirely.
Sport England, had, however promised to double the funding in grassroots handball from £0.6m to £1.2m over the next four years.
However, Great Britain’s Chris McDermott, who plays in the Icelandic national league, insists the game cannot survive without elite level funding, a claim seemingly backed up by news from the Newham Flames.
“The whole tag and mantra of the Games was ‘legacy’, and handball has shown we’re capable of producing a legacy,” said the 23-year-old.
“In England, participation in the sport has quadrupled since the Olympic Games. If you take away the elite end, what do these kids have to aspire towards?
“The level of the sport will never improve unless the elite end is funded.
“I’m 100% dedicated. I’m going to continue to play the sport and I’m going to continue trying to improve, not only my own level, but the level of the sport in the UK.
“But they’re just making it so much harder for us.”
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