City grant puts Croydon Goalball club on target for Tokyo 2020

A pioneering sports club for the visually impaired, based in Croydon, is set to benefit from a three-year grant from one of the City of London’s guilds.

Goalball is a Paralympic sport which, at club level, can be played by teams of all abilities

The charity run by the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers has awarded its first grant to Goalball UK, the national governing body of the only sport specifically designed for the visually impaired.

Croysutt Warriors, who train and play at the Sir Philip Game Centre in Addiscombe, were the first Goalball club in Greater London when they were formed in 2015. Thanks to the  Spectacle Makers’ grant, they are hopeful that the sport in the capital will expand, with more clubs enabling the establishment of a league competition, and helping the better players prepare, possibly to reach the highest levels of the game at the Tokyo Paralympics in 2020.

Goalball was developed to help to rehabilitate injured servicemen after World War II. It is  the only Paralympic team sport invented specifically for the visually impaired.

Played with raised markings on the floor, blindfolds are used by all players to ensure fairness, as they locate the ball through sound. At club level, the use of blindfolds means that sighted people can also take part.

Dr Natalie Briggs, the chair of the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers charity, said, “We will be supporting Goalball UK to increase both the awareness and availability of this exciting sport.”

Mark Winder, Goalball UK’s CEO, said, “We wish to increase the opportunities to play Goalball in London. We are keen to increase the numbers of clubs.

“All too often, visually impaired people struggle to find challenging and enjoyable activities. This can be especially upsetting for those who lose their sight later in life. For example, Laura Perry was a keen rugby and cricket player before becoming visually impaired aged 18. She now plays Goalball internationally with the Great Britain women’s team.

Croysutt Warriors, based in Addiscombe, was Great London’s first Goalball club

“Unlike many disability sports, Goalball offers players the opportunity to progress in a remarkably short space of time. The speed with which talented players can be identified and progress through the ranks makes it entirely likely that a potential Tokyo 2020 team would include a player yet to even pick up a Goalball.

“Playing Goalball also helps to increase confidence and engage in vigorous activity to improve well-being and health.

“So whether you aspire to being a Paralympian, or simply want to enjoy yourself and join a friendly and supportive group, Goalball is an ideal choice.”

The Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers’ Charity has a 22-year record of making awards to improve the lives of people with sight loss and to reduce future sight loss.

The Master of the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers’, Felicity Harding, said, “I am delighted our charity has taken the step of extending its range of giving to include a three-year grant and I am look forward to following the success of this project.”

For more information about Croysutt Warriors, visit their Facebook page here.

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