Group of school students listening to National Schools Officer, Stephen Newey, during school sessionEach 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.

As it is National School Sports Week, we’re looking back at our National Schools Programme following funding from Children in Need.

In 2018, our National Schools Programme launched to deliver after school goalball activities and competitive opportunities for children with visual impairments, their sighted peers and disadvantaged young people. The object was to raise the profile of the sport throughout the UK and promote participation.

It is a sad reality that many blind and partially sight young people do not have equal access to sport in school due to their additional needs – isolating them from their peers and denying them the skills, exercise and psychological benefits of team sport.  That is why we felt this initiative was important to go some way to addressing this issue by making goalball accessible to both sighted and visually impaired children in a school setting.

Since we got the ball rolling at the first session in September 2018 at Marlcliffe Primary School in Sheffield, we have gone on to visit 80 schools, both primary and secondary, delivering a total of 228 extra-curricular goalball sessions. This means we have introduced goalball to 3,479 children and young people, of which 185 are children and young people with a visual impairment and 1,522 would be classed as disadvantaged.

Throughout the programme there have been many amazing moments and here are some of the key milestones:

·         First National Schools Programme participant joined their local club in late 2018

·         First school to set up their own goalball club as a direct result of the National Schools Programme in November 2018

·         First ever Goalball UK School Goalball Competition in December 2018, for primary schools in Sheffield

·         First ever Goalball UK School Goalball Competition for secondary schools in December 2019

·         Joint county competition for schools from Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire in February 2020

At Goalball UK, we are incredibly eager to get back into schools all over the country once it is safe to do so and introduce even more young people to our sport!