Each week we are digging through the Goalball UK archives to look back at some of our favourite memories from the sport from years gone by.
Tomorrow is the International Day of People with Disabilities (IDPWD), so this week we are looking back to 2018 when some members of the #GoalballFamily went to Ghana as part of the International Citizen Service (ICS) REACT project.
The aim of the project was for a group of sighted and visually impaired volunteers from the UK, to work alongside a group of sighted and visually impaired volunteers from Ghana, to use goalball to challenge the stigma and discrimination against people with disabilities – particularly visual impairments. Included in the group were Georgina Bullen (Fen Tigers), Richard Wheatley (London Elephants), Sal Gamil (Birmingham) and Chris Davies (Goalball UK Development Officer).
Over a period of 2 months, they provided training to potential players, coaches and referees and helped to develop inexpensive equipment and resources, using local materials, thus enabling communities to then set up their own goalball teams and hold tournaments. Chris explained more in this 6 minute video and you can also watch him refereeing a game, played outside on rough ground, in this 1 minute video.
The project was a brilliant success. Richard explained that “We did sensitisation sessions at churches where I talked about what I’d done. That really changed people’s minds. Telling people I had a degree and medals in sport – that surprised them. They now see a range of things that blind people can do. Not just playing sports.”
At the airport, before flying home, Chris reflected on the project in this 6 minute video, answering some questions that had been sent to him by intrigued Goalball UK members. This included the communication challenges they faced and coping strategies for surviving in 38 degrees heat.
The project also had an impact back home as, on their return, UK volunteers Josh Hartley and Gary Marshall were inspired (with the help of others) to subsequently help set up Blackburn Goalball Club.
If you are aged between 18 and 25 and would be interested in overseas volunteer placements, visit the International Citizen Service (ICS) website for more information.