The Hull Outreach Goalball Club, is situated at the Hull university sport and fitness centre, the club currently only has three regular members and therefore struggles to build a team for practice matches. However, members have won several tournaments and continue to strive for success, as the team are currently preparing themselves for a courageous tournament which is taking place on the 24th of March.
They are training vigorously for this tournament and working together, doing a great job on building their team skills and making their weaknesses their strengths.
Coach Chris Oakley has been involved with club since it was established in 2007. Having played the sport for five years, he still says that he “feels a Sense of liberation.” Chris explains that “Having a visual impairment makes it difficult to take part in other sports” but Goalball has allowed him to pursue his sporting ambitions. He achieves this when he was scouted in 2010 by a GB coach and now hopes to compete for a place in the 2012 Paralympics.
The sport is aimed at anyone as you don’t have to be visually impaired to play. The sport involves specialised equipment such as goggles, a goalball and padded clothing, meaning everyone is of the same visual ability.
The club is also home to England’s oldest goalballer, Colin Baxter. Still an active member of the club at the ripe age of 68. He aims to continue playing goalball for as long as possible, he gets a “tremendous buzz from playing the sport.” Colin has officially been playing for 5 years and has participated in several successful tournaments. Over the past two years the club has won the intermediate championship and are hoping to make that a third win later in the month.
Similarly, Liam Wilson, 18 has also won several tournaments since he has belonged at the club and says “ I really enjoy the sport and the most I get out of it is exercise, being healthy and paying in a team. ” Liam first got involved with The Hull Outreach Goalball Club when he was 14 and has been playing ever since.
Goalball is strongly encouraged by Chris Oakley as the sport “is great because not having to deal with sight is fantastic for those who are visually impaired.” The sport is a great opportunity to build up your confidence and help with an active lifestyle. Learning how to play the sport with only four senses is challenging but Fundamentally helps to develop your strategies of how to over come being visually impaired.
As Goalball is not a popular sport to the masses it is often mistaken as football for the blind, but Goalball is an individual sport in which you use your hands to bowl the ball and use your body to defend the goal. The existence of the sport needs to be further publicised as the club has great potential. For anyone wanting to try the sport there are amazing opportunities to play for free with fantastic facilities at the Hull University sport and fitness centre.