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With the government announcing that leisure centres are not to reopen in the next phase of measures to ease the lockdown, we understand this will be a disappointment to many involved with goalball who are excited to get back on the court.

Mid-July has been indicated as a target for these facilities to reopen. However, we are doing everything we can, alongside many other National Governing Bodies, to implore the government to provide more clarity and reassurances on this matter.

A joint statement from the Sport & Recreation Alliance, which we are signatories of, can be found below, along with comments from Mark Winder, Goalball UK’s CEO.

As always, if you are unsure about what the new measures that will be introduced on 4 July mean for you, please visit the government’s website in your country for the latest information and guidance – England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland.

If you feel like you require more support, or just want a chat about what this means, please reach out via the usual channels.

Mark Winder:

“We are disappointed by the decision not to prioritise the opening swimming pools and indoor leisure centres, where our sport is played. It is frustrating there is only a vague timeline for us to work against.

“Our Goalball Family is reliant on the services leisure centres provide. Leisure centres are essential to provide a safe environment for those with little or no useful vision. It is often impossible for people who are blind or partially sighted to exercise outdoors and social distancing guidance adds to the complexity and challenge to this.

“Whilst we recognise we are some way from operating in a normal capacity, this uncertainty continues to frustrate.

“We urge the government to be transparent and develop an action plan in the same way as other leisure activities have been given.”

Sport & Recreation Alliance:

“The announcement from government today that excludes the leisure and physical activity sector in England from re-opening the majority of its indoor facilities is deeply disappointing.

“During his statement, the Prime Minister gave no clear timetable as to when these facilities would be able to re-open. Subsequently, the Culture Secretary has publicly indicated an aspiration to re-open facilities from mid-July.

“We recognise this is a difficult situation, however the sector requires clear, consistent communication from government setting out the precise steps which need to be taken – and when – in order to reopen.

“We must be able to work alongside public health experts to resolve any outstanding problems. We are confident that we are in a position to open and if we are unable to, we must understand why and be given the opportunity to offer solutions.

“It is concerning that no further financial support has been offered to help those affected by the continued closure of these facilities and with many organisations already in financial distress, the lack of additional support will have a dramatic impact on the future of the sector.

“We recognise there is a fine balance to be struck and that any lockdown easing decisions need to be taken carefully, but utilising indoor space for physical activity is the only way that many people engage in sport and recreation, including a large number of people who are considered most vulnerable.

“We find ourselves in the middle of a public health crisis to which sport and recreation must be the answer. Yet we are in danger of losing the very ability to support the health and wellbeing of the nation at this crucial time.

“We want to be clear. We are ready to return.”