Goalball UK logo, with the text in dark blue and red writing.

Goalball UK is among the first group of over 40 organisations working in partnership with Sport England to receive funding from its new funding model.

Goalball UK has a foundational role in the sport and physical activity sector and is therefore well placed to help level up access to sport and physical activity across the country.

Goalball UK will receive an investment of £2,521,975 of government and National Lottery funding from Sport England. Goalball UK has been awarded long-term funding because it has committed to co-deliver change at a national and local level, to help more people enjoy the benefits of playing sport and being active.

All partner organisations were selected by Sport England due to their ability to influence positive change and improvement throughout the sector, their own networks, and beyond.  This is the first step on a journey to revolutionise Sport England’s approach to long-term partnerships which will see it build new relationships with innovative organisations, as well with existing partners, local partners and delivery partners to further the Uniting the Movement strategy.

Sport England research shows that some groups are typically less active – like women, people with long-term health conditions, disabled people, people from ethnically diverse communities and lower socio-economic groups. Right now, the opportunities to get involved in sport and activity – and reap the rewards of being active – depend too much on your background, your gender, your bank balance and your postcode.

Goalball UK will use the funding to transform the lives of people who are blind and partially sighted and their support network. It will grow the unique impact of the sport to help tackle deep-rooted inequalities and to unlock the advantages of sport and physical activity for this underrepresented group.

Goalball UK will strengthen its role within the sport and disability sectors as an expert champion of people who are blind or partially sighted by using research to gain insight into people’s experiences, barriers to participation and motivations. This knowledge will inform a strong framework for future work and collaborations, ensuring more opportunities for everyone, irrespective of ethnicity, age, gender, sexuality, location or socioeconomic status.

Goalball UK is a thriving charity and governing body, skilled at providing appropriate, safe and inclusive opportunities and pathways for all people and organisations within its community. It is committed to continuous improvement to ensure strong governance, inclusivity, and diversity across the whole organisation from the governing body and leadership team through to the regional clubs and competition network.

Only 9% of GB Athletes at the Tokyo Paralympic Games were blind or partially sighted. Goalball UK will develop a system to address this inequality of opportunity in the high- performance system. Its talent pathway focuses on developing individuals and putting their experiences first, creating high performing athletes who will contribute positively through lifelong participation and being ambassadors of the sport.

New and innovative talent identification methods will substantially increase the pool of athletes within the Performance Pathway. The workforce will be increased and diversified, and will use an informed and holistic athlete development pathway to provide high quality, tailored and accessible training and competition opportunities for people who are blind or partially sighted, regardless of their background or circumstance.

Over £193 million is being invested for this first group, with the 43 partners including Goalball UK receiving funding for up to five years. This new funding model from Sport England provides longer-term financial security as organisations recover and reinvent from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tim Hollingsworth, CEO of Sport England, said: “Sport England’s Uniting the Movement strategy aims to help everyone play sport and get active– no matter who they are, where they live, or what their background. But we know that certain groups are more likely to be inactive and need targeted support and investment. We can only innovate and tackle these inequalities effectively with collective action, recognising that this is about long-term change. Goalball UK is one of a huge number of partners we are looking to work with on exactly this over the coming years.  They play a foundational role within the sport and physical activity sector and are therefore well-placed to create the conditions for change.  They will also act as a resource for other innovative organisations with the same goals as we seek to create a more equal society with everyone benefitting from sport and physical activity.”

Mark Winder, CEO of Goalball UK Said:

We are hugely grateful to Sport England for their ongoing, increased commitment to our sport.

I am proud of the progress we have made within the grassroots and talent area of our sport

Since 2017 we have:

  • Formed many new partnerships to improve the organisational health of Goalball UK
  • Raised the profile of the sport across the UK and beyond
  • Worked with IBSA to initiate International Goalball Day
  • Increased our core staff team from 3 to 9… soon to be 12
  • Developed our structures to deliver 32 days of competition across three levels of play every season
  • Delivered sessions in schools to 2456 children young people, in 114 schools, all of whom are disadvantaged, and 228  blind or partially sighted
  • Since 2018 we have recruited and trained 19 new referees and 106 new activators from clubs, universities, and communities
  • Established our new Goalball Academy and revamped talent pathway opportunities for over 30 aspiring future athletes Increased our Social media presence by over 300%
  • Established a successful Youth Forum
  • Achieved Advanced Status in the CPSU Safeguarding standards
  • Developed online courses for volunteers and referees

We are equally proud of the value we provide. Research by York St. John University established for every £1 invested in our sport £4.31 of social impact is generated.

As guardians of the sport of goalball in the United Kingdom, we are wholly committed to using our sport to transform the lives of people who are visually impaired. We have already put in plans to employ key staff to help us to continue our development. We continue to grow, develop, and improve and refine the opportunities we afford all who want to be part of our sport and be part of the Goalball Family. This grant provides the foundations in doing so.