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Government ‘urged’ to invest more in team sports

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Culture secretary Karen Bradley has batted away criticisms about the lack of government funding for elite team sports during her first parliamentary questions session in the role.

Former shadow sports minister Clive Efford asked Bradley to “urge” the government’s elite sport funding partner UK Sport to “do more work with team sports” after they received just 5.9 per cent of the quango’s Rio Olympic cycle investment.

Eltham MP Efford highlighted sports such as basketball and handball in which Great Britain had struggled to achieve success on the international stage with little government funding.

However, the culture secretary – who was appointed by new Prime Minister Theresa May in July – said that she had to “take him up on his comments about team sport”, pointing to the success the women’s hockey team which won gold in Rio.

“I was at the semi-final of the women’s hockey,” said Bradley. “There’s no doubt the women’s hockey team is one of the greatest teams we have and we should congratulate them on their gold medal success.”

Indeed, hockey was the only traditional team sport to benefit from UK Sport funding throughout the 2013-2017 period, with a grant of £16.1m (US$21.5m, €19.1m). It accounted for just a fraction of the £274.5m (US$366.7m, €325.3m) in exchequer and National Lottery money that the organisation distributed over the period.

As part of UK Sport’s ‘no compromise’ approach to funding, sports that have little chance of medalling at Olympic Games will not receive money. Following Team GB’s successful Olympic campaign the chances of team sports winning any UK Sport funding appears minimal, barring hockey.

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Culture secretary Karen Bradley has batted away criticisms about the lack of government funding for elite team sports during her first parliamentary questions session in the role.
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Bradley was named as culture secretary in July by Theresa May
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