Kelsey Trevett, 16, was introduced to goalball during the 2012 London Paralympic Games. Since then, the sport has had a huge impact on his life, as he explains…

As a blind teenager, it can be difficult to find a sport-related activity that is fully accessible: the mainstream games of football, cricket and rugby were, after all, hardly designed with the blind in mind.

Goalball is the first, and only, sport designed with the intention of being played by blind and visually impaired athletes, but that’s not to say it can’t also be played by sighted people too. Today, it is a Paralympic sport, and has received a spike in interest in the UK since the 2012 London Paralympic Games — where I was introduced to the sport.

What is goalball?

The basic objective is to get a basketball-sized ball into the opponent’s goal, past the three players on the other team. While it is not a contact sport – the ball is thrown, bounced or rolled – it is still very physical, as the main aim is to get in front of the ball, to prevent it reaching the goal behind you.

All players are blindfolded, to put everyone on (quite literally) an equal playing field. As the sport is played indoors, the court is made tactile, by using string and tape to mark out the lines. The bells within the ball allow for it to be heard by all players.

I started playing regularly when I was 11 years old, training with a club in Winchester. I’ve gone on to participate in tournaments across the country, as well as attending several talent camps. Goalball has been a huge part of my life, by both filling my weekends with an activity I enjoy, and by being the starting point of some of my closest friendships.

Additionally, it has so many advantages for players when off-court. It has increased my confidence in movement no end — navigating independently and unaided on court was a new, and frankly terrifying, experience for me; it has, however, undoubtedly increased my confidence off the court too, in day-to-day situations. I travel around the country training and participating in tournaments. Goalball really fuelled my want for (and confidence in) independent travel. Nowadays, I regularly travel by train both for goalball, and for social events and work experience opportunities.

From a social perspective, goalball has been wonderful for me. Being part of a sports team was something I had not experienced before, and the atmosphere and tone of the group is always so warm and welcoming. Goalball has given me the skills and opportunity to reach for my potential, both on and off the court. I can’t imagine my life today without it — I’m sure it’d be very, very different.

For more information, visit the Goalball UK website: goalballuk.com

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2018 edition of our InFocus newsletter. You can download the full newsletter here.