Duncan Mackay
Frank Dick head and shouldersIt seems extraordinary that basketball has been so severely penalised by UK Sport in their considerations for those sports deemed to be fit for purpose for Rio 2016.

The damage and credibility this causes to the Olympic and Paralympic Legacy is bad enough but the marginalising and support for team sports is even worse.

The framework within which such funding exists in the UK rightly focuses on the results of the national team in international competition but this is only one measurement and recognition should be made of the longer term potential of the sports as well as its natural and exciting growth in our communities.

The reality is that whether we like it or not, basketball has not yet found the firmness of foothold it deserves in our culture. But in the past six years – a staggeringly short period of time for a sport to grow and mature – only the most unaware can have missed the truly impressive progress that basketball has made in the UK.

Such progress is the fertile ground on which such a foothold can eventually be established and it make well take a few years more. Are we to waste what has been a huge achievement? As Lincoln advised; If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend six sharpening the axe

We surely have sharpened the axe over these six years and effected transformational change of the sport. We have responsibly prepared the ground. Without such a foothold, the quality of players, in quantity, that we need to play European and world-class basketball consistently, is naturally compromised.

Luol Deng for Team GB v Russia London 2012Britain resisted the opportunity to recruit foreign players to help develop its team, relying on talent developed in the UK, like Luol Deng, here in action against Russia at London 2012

Of course, we could take the route of some other sports and persuade players to transfer their national allegiance, but what does this do for the organic growth of the sport in UK, whether at player or coach level and who would choose to play for a country that is disinclined to support the sport and its national team?

Young people need role models and heroes to create the motivational environment they need to go the distance to elite performance. Without proper funding those who may, given right support, simply cannot complete that journey.

The decision to make cuts to basketball funding does not only do damage to any ambition to raise our game in the international arena now, but impacts from beginner player and coach to national team level; from school and club to Federation, for the future.

When results fall short of our dreams is not the time to withdraw support but to restructure it to build on where performance was travelling in the right direction. We are not in total control of results in life, but we are in total control of our performance. Moreover, we can learn to make excellent what is good and to change or rebuild what is not.

How can that be done by almost killing off a sport after such a recent birth is surely counter to the true Olympic ethos and values as well scuppering the dreams and aspirations of those who wish to compete from the playground to the international stage.

Frank Dick is President of the European Athletics Coaches Association, and chairman of the International Association of Athletics Federations Academy. He has been involved with the development and recent launch of Loughborough University's Institute of Excellence, a joint venture between the world class sporting expertise of the university and its business school.