Goalball UK will launch a National Schools Competition Programme to deliver afterschool goalball activities and competitive opportunities to blind, partially sighted and disadvantaged children and young people.
For that purpose, the national federation for goalball in Great Britain was awarded a grant of nearly GBP 100,000 from ‘Children in Need’, British Broadcaster BBC’s charitable arm.
The project will work with children aged under 11 and 18, coaching young people with visual impairments (VI) alongside their sighted peers. It will also give them the opportunity to compete with other teams.
Mark Winder, Chief Executive Officer of Goalball UK, said: “We’re thrilled to receive such a generous grant from BBC Children in Need and can’t wait to get this new programme underway.
“All too often visually impaired children and young people struggle to find challenging and enjoyable activities.
“Seventy per cent of the estimated 25,000 blind and VI children in the UK are in mainstream school. But it is a sad reality that many do not have equal access to sport in school due to their additional needs; isolating them from their peers and denying them the skills, exercise and psychological benefits of team sport.
“We hope this new initiative will go some way to addressing this issue by making goalball accessible to both sighted and VI children in a school setting. As the sport is played with blackout goggles, anyone can participate, allowing VI and non-VI people to compete on an even playing field.
“Goalball smashes perceptions of visual impairment and helps break down the barriers that hold VI children back.”
Isabel Farnell, Regional Head of the North at BBC Children in Need added: “It’s fantastic news that we have awarded new funding to projects like Goalball UK. Over the coming months, this project will work with disadvantaged children and young people in the local community to make a tangible and lasting difference to their lives.”