Paralympic sport goalball gets a push

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A GOALBALL demonstration was part of an awareness day for people with hearing and sight problems.

The floor of the main council chamber, at County Hall in Durham City, was given over to the paralympic sport, which is usually played on a court about the same size as one used for volleyball.

Robert Avery, a goalball coach, said the sport is growing slowly in the UK.

“It is very popular in Europe,” he added.

“York is the nearest club to the North East at present, but there are plans to open one in Newcastle.

“There are players from the North East who play with us and it would be a shame to lose them, but we are committed to expanding the sport.

“If Newcastle is a success, it may be we could look to opening a club in Durham.

“There are now 29 clubs in the UK, of which a quarter are in Yorkshire where we’ve been able to start a regional league.”

Goalball players in the UK wear blindfolds which means sighted people can take part on an equal footing.

The ball has bells inside it, and there are tape markings on the court which the players can feel to orientate themselves.

“We are very keen for the sport to be seen as all-inclusive,” Robert added. “Anyone can play.”

The awareness day was organised by Durham County Council’s sensory support team.

More than 20 organisations, charities and companies which offer services to the disabled set up their stalls in the foyer of County Hall.

Staff handed out leaflets and were on hand to offer advice.

Details of the support team’s services are available online: www.durham.gov.uk/sensorysupportteam.