27th Oct, 2020

Goalball glory for Rugby’s Paul

Craig Gibbons 27th Sep, 2018

RUGBY’S Paul Holloway helped guide England to victory in the inaugural Goalball UK Home Nations tournament.

Taking place at York St John University’s Haxby Road sports park, male and female players from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland descended to the historic walled city in North Yorkshire to compete.

Over the two days, the teams battled it out to determine who became the first Home Nations champions.

This new event showcased the Paralympic team sport for visually impaired athletes which is played using an audible ball and tactile markings on the floor.

All players also wear eyeshades to ensure an even playing field.

Holloway, who plays for goalball club Birmingham Barbarians, was a key player for England as they managed to win five of their six games to seal the victory and claim the bragging rights.

The tournament concluded with a tense 5-3 victory over Northern Ireland.

Kathryn Fielding, development officer for Goalball UK, said: “It was a fantastic experience to facilitate what will be the first of many Goalball UK Home Nations tournaments.

“Players came from all corners of the UK for the chance to be crowned the best and we saw some fiercely contested games as players represented their nations.

“Congratulations to England for claiming the victory across the weekend, but also to each player from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland that made the journey to York and made the tournament a truly remarkable occasion.

“Tournaments like this couldn’t be made possible without the support of partners like York St John University.

“They have supported goalball fantastically and understand the value of participation in sport and all the benefits that follow.”

The sport was originally developed to rehabilitate blinded veterans after the Second World War and is the only team sport invented specifically for visually impaired people.

Currently, goalball is also the only Paralympic team sport for women and boasts a highly successful national women’s GB team.

Significant funding from Sport England, topping £1.4m, has allowed the sport to support further participation.

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