I live in Birmingham, a few miles south of the city centre, very near the Cadburys Chocolate Factory. But I have only lived in Birmingham for about five years. I am originally from Sunderland, and I mostly grew up in Newark near Nottinghamshire. I have also lived in Cumbria, Stoke-on-Trent and Derby.
How did you discover goalball?
I came across it by chance when I read an article in the Sport Birmingham newsletter. The article was about how quickly the sport was growing with loads of new teams and players getting involved, but a severe shortage of volunteers and officials. I love sport and I like helping others to take part in sport so I got in touch and there was a tournament in Birmingham the next weekend. I went along, thinking I would just be watching but ended up helping out on the officials table all day! I felt welcome right away, everyone I’ve met through goalball has always been so supportive and friendly, I think it’s a really special quality that is unique to our sport. That was around four years ago now and I’m now an IBSA Level 1 referee.
Is there a particular song, artist or genre that you listen to before a tournament to get in the mood? Or anything you are loving at the moment?
I don’t have a particular song or artist that I listen to before a tournament, but indie tunes from 2007 – 2010 (my uni years) are always good, I also love the Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Mix.
Do you have any pre-game superstitions or rituals?
I don’t really. I try to be organised so I always get my official’s kit ready the night before, I used to be terrible for forgetting my whistle so I definitely make sure I’ve packed that. I also double-check all of the information the day before, like the venue, start time etc just to make sure I have got everything right. We receive an official’s schedule in advance so I like to check that as well, so I have a rough idea of how many games I’m reffing and if I’m reffing the first match.
Do you have a favourite post-match meal?
I always get home so hungry and tired when I’ve been refereeing, I think it’s because it takes a lot of concentration and there’s often a long drive home at the end. I live with my partner Charlie who is pretty good in the kitchen so I usually have something nice to look forward to when I get home. His homemade burgers and fries are one of my favourites and he also makes a top notch roast dinner!
Which goalball player do you admire the most and why?
I have met so many great people since getting involved in goalball and it’s especially amazing to see so many talented female athletes going from strength to strength. Not only do many players give 110% on the court, they are really respectful and supportive of the coaches and officials who volunteer to make the sport possible and many players even use their rest matches to goal judge – this is hugely appreciated and does not go unnoticed. In terms of officials, Dina Murdie gives so much to the sport and is incredibly supportive, I feel Faye Dale also deserves a shout-out as she is always so positive which is a great confidence boost to me as an official, I have learnt so much from both of them.
Outside of goalball, what other hobbies/sports do you do?
I love to swim, I am lucky to live near Moseley Road Baths, which is a grade II listed pool and one of the oldest pools in the UK. It was built in 1907 and has been open ever since. I’m also a swimming teacher and a tutor, so I train swimming teachers for Swim England.
I love reading and have been doing even more of it since lockdown. I’ve recently finished “The Girl with all the Gifts”, “Salt Path” and “A Man Called Ove”. Highly recommend all three.
Finally, what place, anywhere in the world, is on your bucket list to visit and why?
There are so many places I want to go. Holidays are really important to me and nothing makes me happier than visiting a place I have never been to before. In 2019 I went to Prague (where my picture above was taken) and Vienna. In January 2020, I visited Belfast for the first time and the giant’s causeway, which was a great experience. I am hoping to go hiking in September in either Cyprus or Portugal. One of the things that first attracted me to goalball was the opportunity to officiate at international tournaments, so I’d love the chance to do that in the future.