August 29, 2012, by Harry Waddle
Going for Goals
With the Paralympic Games opening ceremony taking place later today, the University’s Disability Sports Officer Hannah Webber, discusses her role at the Games and a sport that is very close to her heart.
You can’t help but have noticed a small sporting event called the Olympics that took place in London a few weeks ago. I was lucky enough to get down to the Olympic Park and experience the buzz on the Mall at the end of the men’s road race.
I didn’t think that my obsession with sport could escalate much more, but with the main event – the Paralympic Games fast approaching – I was wrong! I have the privilege of officiating at the goalball event, which is taking place in the aptly named Copper Box.
Our Assistant Director of Sport – the unique and quite brilliant Nigel Mayglothling – has reliably informed me that the atmosphere in there is beyond roof lifting. That fact understandably has only added to my level excitement.
So what is Goalball?
I may have lost some of you in the second paragraph, when I mentioned goalball. You may be doing some head scratching and thinking “what is goalball?”
Well…. it’s a sport designed for people with a visual impairment. A game of skill and bravery, the players compete on a court which is 9m wide x 15m long, wearing blacked out goggles and plenty of padding. Each team is made up of three players and the aim of the game is to score in the 9m net that your opponents are defending.
Players orientate themselves using tactile court markings. The padding and bravery is a vital element of the sport because the ball (which has a bell in it) can be launched at the players at speeds of up to 70mph.
I will be a goal judge during the Games, which basically means that I’ll be retrieving balls that go out of play, assisting players on and off of the court and rather surprisingly indicating when goals have been scored!
Come and get involved
There is an element of nervous anticipation about this responsibility, but I’m hoping to bring back the fantastic experiences from the Games to benefit the University and the goalball club that we have set up in partnership with Nottinghamshire Royal Society for the Blind – the Nottinghamshire Sheriffs.
The Sheriffs have a taster session planned for Saturday 22 September, from 11am – 1pm at the Sutton Bonington Sports Centre. If you feel inspired by what you see over the next few weeks in London please come along to your local club and give the game a go!