We realise the past few weeks and months have been challenging. As ever, we are hoping to spread some positivity and showcase that the younger members of the #GoalballFamily are a vital part of what we do!

Children in Need Supported Activities

Without the presence of COVID-19, you would most likely find Stephen Newey on a motorway travelling to a school in the UK to deliver a goalball session, likely featuring many first timers! As this is unfortunately not possible due to the current COVID-19 restrictions, it has meant that Stephen has had more time to source other opportunities for children and young people in the #GoalballFamily to remain connected.

Thanks to the support of Children in Need we have been able to continue developing our school support programme and developed new initiatives to help keep young people engaged at home.

A virtual Social Group has been created for members of the #GoalballFamily who are under 18, and their siblings. There have been lots of fun activities for the young people to take part in, and to plan themselves, such as fun Q&As with questions like ‘if you could have any mythical creature, what would it be and why?’ and the 5 second guess game where you have 5 seconds to name three of something, such as things which are blue… you would be amazed how quickly your mind goes blank when the pressure of having 5 seconds to answer is added! For the older members of the group, they are given the opportunity to lead a team each week, taking on the important role of team captain! This has helped to keep the younger members of the #GoalballFamily engaged and helped reduced the sense of isolation in this tough period for us all. This has been a great success with members from England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland part of the group!

All participants of the social group have the opportunity to access our new ‘At Home Activities’ designed specifically to develop key goalball skills at home, alongside appropriate equipment for practicing safely inside! We are excited to announce we are in the process of recruiting a second group of young people to expand the social group and access the second set of ‘At Home Activities’! For more information on this please email Stephen Newey (Children and Young People Officer) – stephen.newey@goalballuk.com

Stephen Newey, Goalball UK's Children & Young People's Officer coaching goalball to school pupils.

#FindTheNext Goalball Academy – Supported by Sports Aid

Along with this, we have the newly launched #FindTheNext Goalball Academy which is in place as the starting point for our GB talent pathway for both players and coaches. This is one of our obsessions illustrated in our 2019-2024 strategy ‘Transforming More Lives’. Not only this but to our knowledge, this is the first of its kind goalball related programme in the world which is an immense honour for everyone at Goalball UK to be a part of!

You may be asking, what is the #FindTheNext Goalball Academy? It is a two-year programme funded through Sports Aid’s Backing The Best project and has been developed to support a group of dedicated and talented young people as well as coaches. We have selected 10 players and 4 coaches to the first cohort of the #FindTheNext Goalball Academy. We want to ensure that the Goalball Academy team have the best opportunities to develop themselves in their ability as goalball players and as people. This is why we have strived to establish meaningful connections with organisations to support Goalball UK staff in delivering our early 2021 online workshop series.

We have so far hosted an introduction session with everyone in the #FindTheNext Goalball Academy team to give us the chance to meet one another and set our goals! After the hard work that has gone into the implementation of the Goalball Academy, it was amazing to have everyone together! As we now enter 2021, we are going to host fortnightly online workshops with the team looking to develop different skills which are all geared to support them as people and goalball athletes. Fingers crossed for when we can reacquaint ourselves with the goalball court, we will also host #FindTheNext Goalball Academy camps where will be devoted to putting those skills into practice as well as bonding as a team. However, we understand that it is not just about the skills we learn on the goalball court, which is why we are going to also host outdoor adventure trips to provide these young people with opportunities they may not have experienced before.

The #FindTheNext Goalball Academy would not have been possible without the support of our key partners such as Sports Aid. Sports Aid are an organisation who enrich the lives of talented young athletes through monetary awards and do so to over 1,000 athletes across 56 sports. At Goalball UK we are passionate about supporting the next generation of the #GoalballFamily evident through our 2019-2024 ‘Transforming More Lives’ strategy. An obsession illustrates our desire to “provide players, and coaches with a safe, tangible pathway allowing them to develop their talent”. The #FindTheNext Goalball Academy is just that!

If you would like to find out more information about the #FindTheNext Goalball Academy, please contact Alex Cockerham (Project Officer) – alex.cockerham@goalballuk.com.

The #FindTheNext Goalball Academy logo.

Thank you for all of the support we receive from our partners, all of it is massively appreciated and it goes along way to achieve our common goal of supporting the next generation of the #GoalballFamily!

Children in need logo with the writing

Backing the best logo, an initiative coordinated by Sports Aid. A Sport England funded organisation.