CRAIG Howieson knows as well as anyone that playing international sport is a privilege, not a right.

Since the day he became Scottish Under-12 champion, he has dedicated himself to table tennis. It has not been without its rewards; nor without its hardships.

The pinnacle was competing at last summer's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, playing in front of a packed arena and helping Scotland stun Canada, the No 5 seeds, in a late-night thriller.

To achieve the peak of performance, Scotland's table tennis players had been able to call upon all the support from the Scottish Institute of Sport, and the Scottish No 2 had felt every inch the professional sportsman, even if he had still to hold down a full-time job as a PE teacher in Edinburgh in the build-up to the Games.

But that is a fading memory. The national coach, Hungarian Marton Marsi, departed within weeks of the Games' closing ceremony and the Scotland players have had to put together their own programme, albeit with some input from Li Chao, a previous national coach.

Howieson, 25, still holds down his teaching job, trains five nights a week alongside national squad team-mates Sean Doherty, Chris Wheeler and Calum Main at Edinburgh University and often can be found in the gym at 6.30am before his school day begins.

The hunger and desire is the same as prior to Glasgow 2014 but the undercurrent has changed.

When sportscotland announced their funding for the sport for 2015-19 this month, it was down from £502,000 for the previous four years to £360,000, almost 30 per cent. Of the Commonwealth Games' sports, only wrestling (63.43% down) and weightlifting/powerlifting (58.57%) suffered deeper cuts.

This time last year, Howieson enjoyed full physiotherapy support in the build-up to the Games but treatment now costs him £40 an hour.

He estimates that travelling to the Commonwealth Championships in India in October will cost him in the region of £1000 when he factors in loss of earnings and he considers it unlikely that he will go to the European Championships in Russia in September.

Howieson finds it hard to believe that sportscotland, who announced an increase of funding of the 17 Commonwealth Games sports to £45 million, could not maintain the level of support for table tennis, which was recently confirmed as one of the core sports of the Games.

"As far as I'm aware, none of the funding announced is for performance. Table Tennis Scotland are finding a way to employ Li Chao as an elite coach which is good but, in terms of tournament funding and all the background stuff that goes on, we haven't really got anything and all the players are completely in the dark as to what's going on," Howieson said.

"It's great to have him but for us to really push on and make the big improvements that sportscotland expect of a Commonwealth sport and push for medals which is well within our grasp, we need much more.

"It's not the best situation to be in. We have the European Championships in September but the biggest one for us is the Commonwealth Championships in India in October. It's unlikely I'll play both because I'd rather commit to one and peak for that."

Howieson saw immediate benefits from the Commonwealth Games. He achieved his best results at a European Championships, his world ranking leapt up an unprecedented 140 places and he finished the season fourth on the British Grand Prix rankings. Solid foundations on which to build.

"I really believed that having been on a programme for two-and-a-half years funded by sportscotland and supported by the Scottish Institute of Sport - getting to know the people and our results getting better - that it would continue. If they really want us to be medal potential, they have to commit and invest in us on a long-term basis.

"If sportscotland are not prepared to back a performance team then where is the motivation and inspiration for youngsters to take up the sport?

"The Commonwealth Games were brilliant. It gave us the chance to showcase our sport and I think we did a pretty good job. The place was full to the brim after we beat Canada and there was a great atmosphere. We had the opportunity to build on this as a sport and as a country but it's been taken away from us by the powers that be."