Robert Avery is stood on the edge of a goalball court smiling for the camera

Robert Avery, a senior lecturer in health sciences at York St John University, has been selected to referee goalball matches at the IBSA World Games 2023 held in the UK this August. 

Robert Avery has been a part of the goalball community for over a decade, and his passion for the sport led him to help develop a sustainable structure for the game with Goalball UK. He has worked tirelessly to enable local clubs to form and develop players to ensure the growth and success of the sport in the UK. 

Since obtaining his goalball refereeing qualification in 2012, Robert has officiated at 100 domestic tournaments, earning a reputation as an excellent referee. He has also had the privilege of refereeing at international competitions worldwide, including Belgium, Sweden, Bulgaria, Portugal, Lithuania, The Netherlands, America, and Tokyo. 

Commenting on his selection Robert said: “I am really proud to be heading to Birmingham this summer to be part of the World Games. When I started officiating goalball matches, I couldn’t have imagined that I would be a part of one of the biggest blind sports events in the World. 

“I have always had an interest in para sports due to my background in health sciences and the positive impact they can have for participants – not only for the physical health, but also the wellbeing benefits. The inclusivity of goalball delivers on both fronts for its players. If you’re visually impaired or sighted, the community is always eager to welcome new people in a variety of capacities. 

“To become a goalball referee, the main attributes needed are a good knowledge of the rules and procedures; and the ability to remain composed. The best matches are the ones where no one remembers you were the referee, which is what I will be determined to achieve at the World Games” 

Steve Cox, operations manager for Goalball UK, praised Robert’s dedication and contribution to the sport, describing him as a world-renowned goalball referee. Cox emphasised the importance of volunteers like Robert to support Goalball UK’s mission of creating opportunities for individuals with visual impairments to participate in sport. 

Robert Avery’s selection as a referee at the IBSA World Games 2023 in the UK is a significant achievement for him and for Goalball UK, and we congratulate him on this honour.