Goalball UK Launches National Schools Competition Programme
Goalball UK, the NGB for the only sport specifically designed for the blind and visually impaired (VI), are launching the first National Schools Competition Programme, thanks to an unprecedented grant from BBC Children in Need.
The disability sport have been awarded a grant of nearly £100,000 to deliver afterschool goalball activities and competitive opportunities to blind, partially sighted and disadvantaged children and young people.
The project will work with U11 all the way up to U18, coaching VI youth alongside their sighted peers and giving them the opportunity to compete with other teams in the Goalball National Schools Competition Programme.
Mark Winder, CEO of Goalball UK said: “We’re thrilled to receive such a generous grant from BBC Children in Need and can’t wait to get this new programme under way.
“All too often visually impaired children and young people struggle to find challenging and enjoyable activities.
“70% of the estimated 25,000 blind and VI children in the UK are in mainstream school. But it is a sad reality that many 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.
“We hope this new initiative will go some way to addressing this issue by making goalball accessible to both sighted and VI children in a school setting. As the sport is played with blackout goggles, anyone can participate, allowing VI and non-VI people to compete on an even playing field.
“At a club level, we often see players bring their sighted friends and siblings to training as it is something they can enjoy together. Goalball smashes perceptions of visual impairment and helps break down the barriers that hold VI children back.
“The ambition is to build on after-school engagement to create regional and, eventually, national tournaments so we can give disadvantaged children the chance to compete in world class venues.
“BBC Children in Need is an inspirational charity. I would like to thank them for believing in us and look forward to working with them to transform even more lives.”
Isabel Farnell, Regional Head of the North at BBC Children in Need said: “It’s fantastic news that we have awarded new funding to projects like Goalball UK. Over the coming months, this project will work with disadvantaged children and young people in the local community to make a tangible and lasting difference to their lives.”