Goalball UK CEO Mark Winder smiling whilst taking a selfie in a red Goalball UK hoodie.

Dear Goalball Friends, Family and Partners,

This month marks 5 years since I became CEO of Goalball UK, so it seems a good time to write to you and reflect on our progress and where we are going.

We are hugely grateful to all our partners and stakeholders, in particular, Sport England for their ongoing, increased commitment to our sport. We announced yesterday we will receive an investment of £2,521,975 of government and National Lottery funding from Sport England. This is over 40% more each year for the next five years and testament to your support, commitment and contributions to our sport and the growing Goalball Family.

We are wholly committed to using our sport to transform the lives of people who are visually impaired. We have already implemented plans to employ key staff to help us to continue our development. We continue to grow, develop and improve and refine the opportunities we offer to all who want to be part of our sport and part of the Goalball Family. This grant provides a solid foundation to build on.

I am proud to be the CEO of an organisation that is the guardian of the wonderful sport of goalball in the United Kingdom. Five years after taking over the reins from Mike Reilly, I’m grateful for all the support we have received to continue our mission of ‘Transforming More Lives’.

Since 2017:

  • Our staff team has grown; we have Increased our core staff team from 3 to 9… soon to be 12. We’ve also recruited and trained 19 new referees and 106 new activators from clubs, universities, and communities.

This has allowed us to provide more opportunities to more people.

  • We have developed our structures allowing us to deliver 32 days of competition across 3 levels of play every season.
  • Our work in schools, supported by BBC Children in Need, has grown; since 2018 we have delivered goalball to 2456 children and young people across 114 schools, all of whom are disadvantaged, and 228 of which are blind or partially sighted.

In addition, we have developed a strong Youth Forum to help to provide a stronger voice for our children and young people.

  • With support from Sports Aid, we have established our new #FindTheNext Goalball Academy and revamped talent pathway opportunities for over 30 aspiring future athletes. This work helps to address the inequalities faced by children and young people who are blind or partially sighted.
  • The Spectacle Makers charity has also supported our growth in London. A three-year grant alongside the support of the London Clubs and players has allowed us to improve opportunities.
  • Goalball does not receive the public acclamation it truly deserves. However, we have increased our social media presence by over 300% over the past 5 years. The employment of a new Digital Media and Communications Lead will help us to continue this journey. They will work alongside a new Partnership and Fundraising Lead who will help us to grow our sport.
  • To have achieved Advanced Status in the CPSU Safeguarding standards was an impressive achievement by our team and we are committed to keeping everyone in goalball safe. We have established an independent careline (click here), to ensure everyone can feel confident in raising concerns over Safeguarding, wellbeing, mental health or to make a complaint or reporting a criminal act.
  • I would personally like to thank another group of volunteers. Our chair, John Grosvenor, and a dedicated board of directors for leading the charity strategically. We have been able to demonstrate strong organisational health following assessment by both UK Sport and Sport England, which is no mean feat for a small governing body like ourselves.
  • We also have the IBSA World Games to look forward to in 2023. We are proud of the work we have done to support British Blind Sport in winning the bid to host the Games in Birmingham.
  • Something which particularly pleases me is the social value we provide. Research by York St. John University established for every £1 invested in our sport £4.31 of social impact is generated.

This is all brilliant… however, the journey of improvement is far from over. We are far from perfect, and we know we need to develop many things. These will be front and centre in our minds over the coming period, including:

  • The opportunities afforded to our High-Performance Squads. As a result, we are employing a High-Performance Lead on a full-time basis, to help develop the excellent work that has been done.
  • Providing better resources and support for our coaches; we are presently working on resources and courses to help our coaches develop their knowledge, skills and understanding irrespective of where they are in their journey.
  • Developing our communications to you, ensuring we are consistent in our messaging and maintaining high quality.
  • We are committed to continuing to develop our offer to visually impaired children and young people whom we know do not receive equality of opportunity in their schools or local communities.
  • Grow our workforce to meet the increased demand and develop courses for volunteers and referees.
  • Improve the spectator experience for goalball in the UK and we have recently been awarded funding from UK Sport to improve this. We will be focussing initially on the Goalfix Cup and National Finals.

There is a presence of goalball in all Home Nations due to the commitment of a few talented volunteers. However, it is not enough, and we will do all we can to develop the opportunities for people across the United Kingdom.

All in all, things are looking positive and we have a strong sense of direction. But, as always, my mobile number and email are freely available. If you have any comments or suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact me

Best wishes and thank you,

Mark Winder

Pronouns: He/Him
Chief Executive Officer/ Secretary-General
Email: mark@goalballuk.com
Mobile: 07711049565