Alison Burchell headshot photo.

As part of #TrusteesWeek we are shining a light on our amazing trustees to raise awareness to the wider #GoalballFamily. First up is Alison Burchell…

For those who may not know you, tell us a bit about yourself:

I am a very keen traveler ever since I was young. I was originally born in Iran and educated in England but after my dad retired, we moved to South Africa. I have since lived in different places across the world including South Africa, Switzerland, Fiji and Sheffield!

Across my career I have been heavily involved in disability sport in a variety of roles such as the Deputy Chef de Mission of the 2000 South African Paralympic Team and the Chef de Mission in 2004. My passion lies in governance of sport and I played a key role in transitioning the former International Paralympic Table Tennis Committee into the International Table Tennis Federation.South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee logo.

How did you become a trustee of Goalball UK?

I have been a Director of Goalball UK since 2015. The past four years have flown by! I applied to be on the Board of Goalball UK when I saw an advert on the UK Sport website. I previously knew about goalball via roles in Paralympic sport and knew it is a great sport to be involved in! I enjoy my role because it overlaps with my previous experiences in disability sport across the world.

It has undoubtedly been challenging for everyone in the #GoalballFamily this year with the pandemic but it has been great to see everyone come together to support one another to remain in hopeful good health. In spite of the major downsides of the virus, I personally believe it does present a great opportunity for people to develop in their skills and work on things they may not have had the chance to do when focusing on playing or coaching goalball. This will put us all in good stead when we get to properly return to the court!

You mentioned you have lived in Fiji, which is amazing! What did you do there?

I worked in the Ministry of Youth and Sports and specifically in strategy, policy making and general management. Fiji has similarities to South Africa so to me it was not a major culture shock. One thing I will mention is I was eaten alive by mosquitos! Nevertheless, living and working in Fiji was a very enjoyable experience.

Fiji National flag.

What are you doing outside of your role as a trustee?

I am currently doing a CIMSPA accredited sports governance course. My life has revolved around sports governance since the 1990’s so I knew it would be a good idea to be accredited for it. On the course there are people from various backgrounds and national governing bodies which allows me to champion goalball through networking. Examples of organisations represented in the course include the RFU and British Taekwondo. As far as I am aware, I am the only representative from a disability sport!

CIMSPA professional standards logo

Ambitions for the future of goalball in the UK

My ambitions for the future of goalball are:

  • Increase goalball participation in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in particular.
  • To see international success for both GB teams in international competitions and qualifying for the Paralympics.
  • Continue to inspire people of all cultures to take part in goalball regardless of age, gender or ethnic background.

Look out for our next #TrusteesWeek article this Friday! To find out who else is a trustee of Goalball UK follow this link to our website to ‘Meet the Board’.