Interview with award-winning Goalball club’s Hannah Webber

The University of Nottingham offers a better range of sports clubs than any other University in the country, so visitors to the Welcome Fair will have quickly discovered that it’s not just the ‘bigger’ sports such as Football and Rugby that have well established clubs at the Uni. There is something for just about everyone, and the more obscure clubs make a big point of catering for all abilities and promoting inclusivity. When catching up with Disability Sport Officer Hannah Webber, Impact found that Goalball is no exception.

What would you say to a beginner who has never done your sport?
HW: “Goalball is an exciting and inclusive team sport that relies on players using their hearing to track the ball. You don’t need any previous experience of playing other sports, but you do need to be a little bit brave and embrace the sport and the goalball. We do tailor training to suit the needs of players and will teach you all of the techniques and skills you need to develop as a player.”

What do you think to the new David Ross Sports Village?
We haven’t played at DRSV yet, but we hope to explore opportunities to play there in the next academic year. The GB Men’s goalball squad have trained at DRSV and really enjoyed playing in the facility.

With fortnightly Saturday training sessions at the Sutton Bonington Sports Centre from 10am-1pm, the club; who compete under the moniker ‘The Sherriffs’, has been reaping the rewards for their hard work:

HW: “We have received a city council award for disability sports club of the year and were also shortlisted for Nottinghamshire disability sport club of the year. The Sheriffs have also won Novice and Intermediate regional leagues and have the current top intermediate goal scorer.”

What kind of hole does playing Goalball burn in your pocket?
HW: “There is no membership fee – it’s £3 per session for each player, £5 if transport is required over to Sutton Bonington. The club provides eyeshades and pads, but if players prefer to buy their own there is that option too. Shades cost around £35 and pads around £15-20.”

Eyeshades mean that anyone can compete on equal footing with other players in Goalball, where teams must use the sound of bells within the ball to defend their goal from the attacking team.

Why should a fresher choose your sport, over so called ‘bigger’ sports?
HW: “Goalball is a fun and fast team sport that can be played by anyone – whatever your ability. You play with eyeshades on and use your hearing to track the ball. The aim of the game is for your team of three players to defend your goal and stop the opposition from scoring.

Our club training is tailored to suit the needs of the players and everyone mucks in to support their team mates. We compete in regional leagues and have a friendly team of players. There are also opportunities for students to do their coaching qualification, help run club sessions and support the teams at competitions, if that’s an area that they’d like to explore.”

What are you getting excited about for the new year?
HW: “Welcoming new players and volunteers in to the club and raising the profile of goalball at the University.”

What makes it special?
HW: “It’s a fun and friendly team sport that anyone can play.”

Tom Monks

Featured image courtesy of Nottinghamshire Sheriffs Goalball Club.

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