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Knocked out of court by rising cost of hall lets

British Volleyball is bracing itself for the worst of news next week.

Having been given funding for elite programmes across indoor and beach in the build-up to London 2012, the budget is likely to be savagely cut for Rio 2016.

Indeed, the future of the Great Britain teams is on the line in spite of showing that this country is capable of producing players who can go toe-to-toe with the best in the world, given even a fraction of the finance that other countries enjoy.

It is not the legacy that was anticipated after the Olympics and team sports will bear the brunt of elite funding cuts. But at grass roots level, volleyball is finding itself unable to take advantage of the renewed interest in the sport through the Olympic profile with hall lets proving crippling.

Barry McGuigan, player-coach at City of Edinburgh, who lead the Schelde Sports Scottish League at the halfway stage, has been so frustrated that he has set up a Facebook page "Hall Prices Are Destroying My Sport".

Within a week it has attracted more than 1300 members – including some from other sports – and McGuigan is organising a petition, with the hope of getting 100,000 signatures, to present to the Scottish Parliament.

"Hall prices across the country are gradually making minority sports like volleyball, basketball, netball, handball, badminton, squash, etc impossible for clubs to continue," he argues. "Prices are already extortionate [£4000 per year for one section of the club] and continue to rise every year. How can we develop sport in this country? How can we combat obesity, attract young, budding athletes into an activity in a situation like this?"

Edinburgh Jets, who are also challenging for the Scottish title this year, have been forced to train on half a court to cut costs. It is by no means a situation unique to City of Edinburgh. Team Fife, one of Scotland's long-established clubs, were effectively priced out of existence by rising hall lets.

Glasgow Mets, former Scottish league and cup winners, fear they will be priced out of their city because of the charges of renting suitable training facilities. "We're training in a school hall with no fitted posts and a ramshackle net. All because the nearest sports halls are charging £50-£60 an hour," says Alan Krawczyk, the Mets and Scotland international setter.

Dave Watson, district organiser for volleyball in Aberdeen and South Grampian, has written to Shona Robison, Minister for Commonwealth Games and Sport, to highlight the problem.

"Volleyball in Aberdeen is also suffering because of hall prices," he writes on the Facebook page. "Most of our district teams are now sharing halls with one another due to school let closures and rising prices. There are some fantastic facilities in the city for volleyball, ie sports village/RGU [Robert Gordon University] but unfortunately the cost of hiring these facilities is far too much.

"Even the local sports centres are more profit orientated rather than sports! Aberdeen City council say they can't justify paying a janitor for a 2-4 hour school let! It's no wonder sport is deteriorating in Scotland! It's about time the Government stepped in."

Lucasz Przybylski, a Polish player living in Edinburgh, cannot understand the way clubs are priced out of playing in local facilities. "In Poland, we don't pay for anything, plus the club buy shoes and strips. When we go for a game somewhere, the club rents a bus – free water, energy drink, food after game – and it was in Division 3.

"If your club represents a city, then the city pays all the costs. Simple. By the way, in my place live just 4217 people, and they still can find money to pay for everything."

Chris Lamont, the former City of Glasgow Ragazzi middle player who went on to play for Great Britain at London 2012, currently plays professionally with Lyon in France and has also played in Belgium and Germany.

"Every country in Europe I've been to seems to have the right idea," he stresses. "Hall lets cost nothing and players pay nothing to play for their team. Sport halls are built for the community and not for profit.

"My team-mates laugh when I tell them that everyone in Scotland has to pay to play their sport. Then they are shocked when I tell them the actual price that some club members have to pay."

Contextual targeting label: 
Finance

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