Hot on the heels of Great Britain’s Paralympic success, Goalball UK are leading a campaign to get more sighted people involved in the sport at a club level, as players, coaches and officials.
Throughout October and into November, clubs across the country will be hosting open sessions where anyone, sighted or visually-impaired, can attend to learn more and try Goalball out for themselves.
Developed to help soldiers recover in WWII, it has become one of the fastest-growing disability sports in the country with participation increasing 325% since London 2012.
It is played with blindfolds to ensure people with all levels of visual impairment can join in – but this also means that sighted people can take up the challenge.
With shots reaching up to 60 miles per hour, and nothing but the voices of team mates and raised markings on the floor to guide players, Goalball puts visually-impaired people used to navigating a sighted world using their other senses at a distinct advantage.
Mike Reilly, CEO of Goalball UK, said:
“While the sport offers a ready-made visually-impaired community, younger players in particular have recognised the opportunity to involve their sighted peers and strengthen friendships through Goalball.
“The sport is fast, challenging and gives our players a game that they can enjoy with sighted friends on a level playing field – something which has an incredibly positive impact on confidence and self-esteem.
“For sighted players, the benefits are significant. Goalball requires precise teamwork, collaborative leadership and a great deal of physical fitness. It also offers the chance to support a sport that is dramatically improving the lives of visually impaired people”
As well as players, Goalball UK are looking for new coaches and officials to help at clubs and tournaments, allowing both to expand and accommodate more players. For those interested, there is a one day ‘Goalball Leaders Award’ which teaches potential coaches how to communicate and guide a person with a visual impairment in a sporting environment as well as coaching techniques. It also provides a grounding in domestic competitive structures.
Mike Reilly concluded:
“Goalball has been growing at a rate of knots since London 2012, but without coaches and officials we can not continue to expand.
We estimate that only 1% of visually-impaired people in the UK have access to Goalball coaching and facilities – sighted people can help change this and transform the lives, of visually impaired people in their communities.”
For more information on Goalball please visit the website.
And find a video showing how it has transformed the lives of visually impaired people here.