Sixteen-year-old Kelsey Trevett gives the lowdown on Goalball and how it has transformed his life…
As a blind or visually impaired teenager, it can be difficult to find a sport-related activity that is fully accessible: the mainstream games of football, cricket and rugby were, after all, hardly designed with the blind in mind.
Goalball is the first, and only, sport designed with the intention of being played by blind and visually impaired athletes, but that’s not to say it can’t also be played by sighted people too. Today, it is a Paralympic sport, and has received a spike in interest in the UK since the 2012 London Paralympic Games — where I was introduced to the sport.
What is Goalball?
The basic objective of Goalball is to get a basketball-sized ball (with bells inside) into the opponent’s goal, past the three players on the other team. Whilst it is not a contact sport – the ball is thrown, bounced or rolled from the other end of the court – it is still a very physical sport, as the main aim of the game is to get in front of the ball, to prevent it reaching the goal behind you.
The unique point of Goalball is that all players are blindfolded, to put everyone on (quite literally) an equal playing field. As the sport is always played indoors, the court is made tactile, by using string and tape to mark out the lines. The bells within the ball allow for it to be heard by all players, to determine its location and movement.
I started playing Goalball with some degree of regularity in 2013, when I was 11 years old, training with a club in Winchester. I’ve gone on to participate in tournaments initially at novice, and now at intermediate level across the country, as well as attending several Goalball UK talent camps over the last few years. Goalball has been a huge part of my life for several years now, by both filling my weekends with an activity I enjoy, and by being the starting point of some of my closest friendships.
Goalball is, of course, an excellent way for blind and visually impaired people to stay fit and active, providing both physical activity, and an incentive to exercise and train outside of team sessions. Additionally, it has so many other advantages for players when off-court which have the potential to improve a person’s life dramatically.
Primarily, Goalball has caused me to become more confident, in so many ways. It has increased my confidence in movement no end — navigating independently and unaided on court was a new, and frankly terrifying, experience for me; it has, however, undoubtedly increased my confidence in mobility off the court too, in day-to-day situations.
As well as this, my confidence has grown in relation to travelling; I travel around the country training and participating in tournaments, from training in Winchester, to competing in Sheffield. Goalball really fuelled my want for (and confidence in) independent travel. Nowadays, I regularly travel by train both for Goalball, and for social events and work experience opportunities.
From a social perspective, Goalball has been wonderful for me. Being part of a sports team was something I had not experienced before, and the atmosphere and tone of the group is always so warm and welcoming. On top of this, having the opportunity to socialise and share experiences with other visually impaired players from across the UK has been great for me, both to gain knowledge, information and advice from others, and more recently to begin sharing some of my own experiences too.
This has been key in driving me forward, to try new things and to approach new challenges with confidence and a strong support network.
Goalball has given me the skills and opportunity to reach for my potential, both on and off the court. I can’t imagine my life today without Goalball — I’m sure it’d be very, very different. There are clubs across the UK, and I would urge anyone interested in the sport to go along to a session and try it out!
For more information, visit the Goalball UK website. Check out the video below to see Goalball in action: