The Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers’ Charity has awarded its first three year grant to Goalball UK, the only sport specifically designed for the visually impaired, to help the National Governing Body develop the sport in London.
Goalball UK has been awarded the first three-year grant, which attracted a strong pool of applications, exceeding the expectations of the Trustees.
Dr Natalie Briggs, Chair of the Charity said “We were delighted by the number of applicants for our new three-year grant and I am pleased to announce the grant has been awarded to Goalball UK. We will be supporting Goalball UK to increase both the awareness and availability of this exciting sport, played by mainly by blind and partially sighted people”.
Goalball was originally developed to rehabilitate soldiers after WWII and is the only Paralympic team sport invented specifically for the visually impaired. Played with raised markings on the floor, blindfolds are used to ensure an even playing field as players locate the ball through sound and ensuring that sighted people can enjoy the sport as well.
In the past four years alone, participation has increased 425%.
The first club in central London, the London Elephants, launched two years ago. Within six months, it already had 58 individual participants – remarkable considering the rates of inactivity and exclusion amongst visually impaired people.
Commencing in July, the grant will enable Goalball UK to increase provision for the sport in the city, raise awareness and support talent development.
In the final stages of the project, sustainability will be established for each of the new clubs through partnerships and affiliation to Goalball UK, who will help them to secure their future funding.
Mark Winder, CEO of Goalball UK said “We wish to increase the opportunities to play goalball in London. There are presently two clubs for the entire capital. One based in Croydon and the other in Elephant and Castle. We are keen to increase the numbers of clubs.
We are delighted that this project supported by funding from the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers, will help us to meet this need.
“All too often, visually impaired people struggle to find challenging and enjoyable activities. This can be especially upsetting for those who lose their sight later in life. For example, Laura Perry was a keen rugby and cricket player before becoming visually impaired aged 18. She now plays Goalball internationally with the Women’s GB Team.
“Unlike many disability sports, Goalball offers players the opportunity to progress from amateur to professional player in a remarkably short space of time. The speed with which talented players can be identified and progress through the ranks makes it entirely likely that a potential Tokyo 2020 team would include a player yet to even pick up a Goalball.
“Playing Goalball also helps to increase confidence and engage in vigorous activity to improve well-being and health.
“So whether you aspire to being a Paralympian, or simply want to enjoy yourself and join a friendly and supportive group, Goalball is an ideal choice.”
The Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers’ Charity has a 22-year record of making awards to improve the lives of people with sight loss and to reduce future sight loss.
The Master of the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers’, Felicity Harding, said “I am delighted our Charity has taken the step of extending its range of giving to include a three-year grant and I am look forward to following the success of this project.
For more information please contact Alex Bunney (firstname.lastname@example.org)