Each Thursday we want to put the spotlight on a person involved with goalball – from players, officials to coaches, or anyone!
We want to use this opportunity where we have a bit more time on our hands to get to know you all a little bit better.
As it is Pride month, we are celebrating those in the goalball family that are involved with the LGBTQ community in one way or another. Pride month is an important occasion for Goalball UK as we share many values – including celebrating diversity, ensuring inclusivity in everything we do, and many more.
First up is Hannah Webber, who is a Disability Sport Officer at the University of Nottingham. In her role at the university and with the Nottinghamshire Sheriffs Goalball Club, she has worked uncompromisingly to promote these important values.
Hannah explained why this month is important to her and Nottinghamshire Sheriffs Goalball Club: “We pride ourselves in being a welcoming and inclusive club at the Nottinghamshire Sheriffs. Our code of conduct, which we encourage all players to read and sign, really sets out what we want the culture of the club to look like.
“We feel that if people feel comfortable and happy, no matter what their ability, background or aspirations, that they will continue to keep coming back and enjoying the sport. We have over the last few years supported a couple of players who have transitioned and although we didn’t always do things perfectly, we always did our best to make their experience of goalball as positive as possible – asking them what they needed, wherever possible.
“Goalball at club level is by its very nature inclusive and that’s something that we should be proud of and actively celebrate!”
From everyone at Goalball UK, we want to say a massive thank you to Hannah for these lovely words and the role she does to promote these values. Now, let’s get to know her a little better:
What club do you play for or coach?
I have been coaching the Nottinghamshire Sheriffs Goalball Club for over nine years now. I did dabble in a bit of playing when we first formed the club, but my defensive technique was not the best!
How did you discover goalball?
In my role as Disability Sport Officer at the University of Nottingham, I was approached by Faye Dale (who was working for My Sight Nottinghamshire at the time) about setting up a goalball club in the city. Faye did a great job of selling the sport and linked us in to the great work that Goalball UK were doing at the time (and still continue to do). After completing a goalball leaders course with Kathryn Fielding, I was sold on it!
Is there a particular song, artist or genre that you listen to before a tournament to get in the mood? Or anything you’re loving at the moment?
There’s nothing specific, but one of my favourites after volunteering at the 2012 Paralympic Games, was Bounce by Calvin Harris. I always thought it was well linked with goalball and definitely got you in the mood when you were goal judging some of the hard hitting battles in the Copper Box.
Do you have any pre-game superstitions or rituals?
Beyond getting the players on the court to warm up and shouting “whoop whoop” before the game starts – I don’t really have any big pre-game superstitions or rituals.
Do you have a favourite post-match meal?
It’s a tradition with the Sheriffs team that we always stop at a services on the way back from a tournament. It’s our time to review how the days’ games have gone. McDonald’s is usually the popular choice with the team, but for me it usually depends on what kind of mood I’m in.
Which goalball player do you admire the most and why?
This is a tough one, as there are so many amazing players competing in the sport. Being completely biased, I’d have to go with Shamaila Kauser from the Sheriffs – she’s been involved in the club from day one and as well as developing her own game (reaching GB at her peak), has been 110% supportive of the development of our novice and intermediate players. She really is a team player and we couldn’t have kept the club going without her!
Outside of goalball, what other hobbies/sports do you do?
I’m a bit of a sport nut to be honest – I love most sports, with a few exceptions…. I dabble in a little bit of running and guide ran the Liverpool half marathon, with one of our former players, Sarah Stephenson-Hunter, a few years ago.
Finally, what place, anywhere in the world, is on your bucket list to visit and why?
The big one is probably New Zealand – I’ve heard so many good things about how beautiful it is and am busy saving as we speak!