A major cash injection will offer hundreds more visually impaired people across the country access to an exciting team sport.
Goalball UK, the governing body for goalball, has received a £250,000 grant from Sport England after it hit its three year participation target in just twelve months.
Goalball is the only Paralympic team game for partially sighted and blind people (for both men and women). Over the last 12 months the number of people playing the sport has doubled.
Goalball is played blindfolded and in silence. Teams of three hurl a ball, with a bell in it, at high speed towards the opponents’ goal.
Mike Reilly, chief executive of Goalball UK said: “We are thrilled to be awarded the grant. The sport continues to grow in popularity as it becomes more familiar to people.
“The award is essential as it means we can create several new clubs in areas where we do not have a presence. This will allow us to offer more people, visually impaired or not, the opportunity to take part in goalball.
“The investment will also help us to identity and develop more top young players – which is vital for the long-term future of this exciting Paralympic sport.
“As goalball participation grows we need more resources and the grant will help us to improve the structure of our existing clubs as well as helping us to create the supply of coaches and officials.”
The funding will support Goalball UK’s aim to get even more women and men involved in the sport. Goalball is designed for those with a sight problems and there are two million visually impaired people in the UK.
Goalball UK will also use the investment to help recruit and develop more young players ahead of the Paralympic Games in Rio and Tokyo.
Goalball, originally devised as a rehabilitation programme for injured soldiers returning from World War 2, was one of the hits of London 2012 with crowds cramming into the Copper Box to support the men and women’s teams.
Since then, the sport has grown in popularity with eleven extra domestic tournaments being added to the calendar for the upcoming season, which begins this month.