Faye Dale, a National Talent lead for Goalball, shares her thoughts on the progression of the upcoming sport. She also discusses how she began in goalball, her role within the sport, her ambitions for the future and the enjoyment she gets from being involved in a crucial aspect of the future Paralympic Games sport.
The former GB mens Head Coach has had an interesting career, starting out at Nottingham Royal Society for the Blind, before becoming Leisure Services Manager of My Sight Nottinghamsire in January 2013. After becoming a PE and sports officer, Faye opted to take her first step into goalball in 2013, becoming GB mens head coach. Dale has had an unprecedented five years, including watching her side retain their place in the International Blind Sports Federation Goalball European Championships B, with the men triumphing in a 4-3 victory over Montenegro to secure their fate for another year.
Dale then went on to become Talent Development officer from April 2015, playing a crucial part in improving participation rates and developing potential athletes for the Paralympic games in August.
Now a National Talent Lead, Dale will be hoping to showcase goalball UK’s talent in the years to come, with the sport’s participation rates increasing across the country.
Q: What does your role entail specifically?
A: I’m in charge of all the talent identification within Goalball for both men and women. I help put the programme together to get players at club level up to potentially being an England talent pathway athlete or the next international athlete in the country.
Q: How much do you enjoy being in that role / position?
A: It’s pretty good, before that I was the talent officer which focused on the delivery background of it all my background is in coaching but now I help put the programmes together that we need from a strategic point of view to get athletes where we want them to be and hopefully get them to be the next international athlete. It’s really enjoyable and a rewarding job, not many people have the opportunity to be part of goalball, so I’d say I’m lucky.
Q: How much do you think goalball has developed since you first started?
A: I’ve been involved in goalball for six years, with my other role being Great Britain men’s head coach so I’ve definitely seen that over the past six years the participation rates have grown dramatically, I believe it’s a 325% growth since 2012 which means the ability to pick athletes from an international perspective has grown tremendously. I think the professionalism of the sport is coming through as well which is great.
Q: How did you originally get into goalball?
A: It was in 2011, I worked for the blind society in Nottingham and we wanted to set up a sports team and we thought goalball would be practical as we didn’t need huge numbers. I then went on to some delivery work for the NGB for goalball UK.
Q: Are you associated with any individual club now?
A: I got an elite club called the Northern All Stars which we’ve been working with for the past four years. That club was formed because we had a lot of success with some athletes that came through the system who didn’t have a local club and didn’t have enough players to set up an elite team. Therefore, we picked these players up and merged them all together for the Northern All Stars which has proven to be a great idea.
Q: Where do you see yourself in goalball in the next 5-10 years going forward?
A: Probably in the same role that I’m in now and just running some really good England talent programmes and a good pathway that would hopefully then have world class funding attached to it from UK sport so that we can provide a better-quality pathway for our athletes.
Q: What are your ambitions for goalball on a whole?
A: We’ve just worked on our new strategy from this year until 2024 but we’re looking at a lot of different strands, but our main one is participation and getting the rates up in grass roots level. I think we’ve got numbers from Sports England to get over 1000 people playing and at the minute we’ve got about 650 across the UK. We’ve also got a new school’s officer so we’re doing a lot of work in schools to help increase the awareness and find more players for the club around the country. We want to be world class in what we do, we know that may take another 4-8 years to be able to do that with the grand aim of competing in the Paralympic games in the future.