Blackburn’s blind and visually impaired community have finally received what they were crying out for, as their very own goalball club ran it’s first session this Saturday.
The session took place at the Blackburn youth zone and attracted a mixture of people, with eight attending from young to old, experienced and novice and sighted to blind.
Blackburn coach Kathryn Fielding believes that the first session was a success.
She said: “You’re always a bit nervous when you open a new club that no one will turn up, as goalball isn’t a really well-known sport, but I’m really happy with the turnout today. From the first session I’m confident we can set up a really good goalball club here, there’s a good mix of people and abilities and hopefully we can continue to build on that”.
The club became the second club to be opened in the Lancashire area, with the Lancashire Lions club in Manchester being the first, and was set up by Goalball UK, which is the national governing body for goalball in the United Kingdom.
For those who don’t know, goalball is the first ever sport that is custom built for the blind and visually impaired, whereas other sports such as blind football and rugby are adapted from the original, goalball is a sport designed so people with all levels of impairment can compete.
The sport was created after the second world war by Hanz Lorenzen and Sepp Reindle to help the veterans who were left visually impaired from the war, which is one of the reasons why Blackburn player Mohammed Salim Patel loves the sport.
He said: “I think the biggest thing that I like about the sport is that it’s the only sport that was designed for blind people specifically. When I’m playing it, I know that this game was specifically made for me, rather than football or another sport that’s been adapted to work for us. Its unique because it’s made for people in my position”.
Salim helped found the Blackburn club, which has been a long-time goal of his.
He said: “It’s just nice to see the team here today more than anything else because it’s been a dream of mine to set up a club and that’s now happened, so its positives all-round really”.
The club trains every Saturday at the Blackburn youth zone and is open to people of all ages and sight.
Click here to see a video from the first session.