Blackburn is now playing host to the fast-paced sport of ‘goalball’ thanks to the efforts of a BBC journalist.

The Blackburn Goalball Club was set up by Mohammed Salim Patel because he was frustrated at the lack of sports available to the blind and partially sighted in Blackburn and across Lancashire.

Goalball was invented in 1946 to rehabilitate World War two veterans who had lost their sight. The sport is designed specifically for the blind and partially sighted, unlike other mainstream sports that have been adapted for the blind.

It can be played by anyone and you do not need to be blind or partially sighted as players have to wear a blindfold. The club is now keen to encourage sighted people to come along to their sessions to increase awareness and interactions between sighted and blind individuals.

The sessions take place at the Bangor Street Community Centre every Thursday from 5.45pm to 7.45pm and are run by a voluntary coach.

Mohammed said: “I was growing ever more frustrated at there being no sporting opportunities for blind people locally. 

“I decided to set up Blackburn Goalball Club and also blind tennis so that those living with a visual impairment in Blackburn and Lancashire have somewhere to come and play sport. 

“It’s not all about sport either as it’s a really good opportunity for people to socialise and share advice on living with sight loss.

“We’re really keen to have more people come and play regardless of if they’re blind or not. Volunteers would also be welcomed to help assist with the setting up of the court.”

“it’s a really fun and competitive game, so challenge yourself and try this unique sport.”

The sports team are also looking for a coach.

Lancashire Telegraph: The sport can be played by anyone and you do not need to be blind or partially sighted as players

Participants said being able to play the sport locally had also helped them to meet visually impaired people and make new friends.

Saj Hussain said: “Without goalball, I would have nothing to do. It’s so important for blind people to be given these opportunities to play an accessible sport.” 

Nadia Patel said: “Goalball and blind tennis are the only opportunities I get to be active and exercise. Exercise is so important for physical and mental health so I’m so glad these opportunities have been made available.”

Hanif Patel added: “It’s lovely to meet other blind people. We all get on and can share tips with each other and it’s a real sense of family.”

How is it played?

Goalball is played on the same size area as a volleyball court. There are three players on a team who all wear blindfolds. 

There are tactile markings on the court so the players know where they are. The aim of the game is to defend the ball from going into the 9-metre-wide goal, whilst trying to score in the opposing team’s goal. 

There is a central player and two wingers. The ball is rolled underarm and can travel at high speeds. It is a very heavy ball weighing more than 1kg. The ball is filled with bells inside it so the players can hear where it’s coming from. 

The fast-paced game can appear to be deceptive. Players have to be active because they are diving left or right to stop the ball and then have to get back their feet quickly to roll the ball before the 10-second timer runs out.

Anyone wanting to try goalball, can call 07545 762342.