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Hope for a Paralympic legacy in York

A visit from the Paralympic lantern has given members of York St John Inclusive Activity Club hope that the Paralympics will inspire more disabled people to get involved in competitive sport in York. 

The Inclusive Activity Club was established by a former York St John University student in 2009 to give students and York’s disabled community the chance to try exciting activities such as goalball, which is one of the most popular Paralympic sports being played competitively in more than 100 countries.

Goalball is a fast-paced sport played by visually impaired athletes who wear black-out masks. Two teams propel a ball across a marked rectangular court, each team attempting to roll it across the opponent's goal line while the other team attempts to prevent this from happening. The game is played with a bell ball made of hard rubber with holes in it, so players can hear the ball as it moves.

Staff, students and alumni volunteer to run a variety of activities at the University including York Goalball Club which was launched in January 2011 and is now the largest goalball club in Great Britain. The Paralympic lantern visited the club during a goalball session on Saturday 25 August.

Robert Avery, senior lecturer in Health and Life Sciences at York St John University and volunteer goalball coach, said: “Goalball is a fantastic sport and its foundations fit in completely with the ethos of the Paralympics as it uses sport as part of rehabilitation. Goalball is also one of the only fully inclusive sports because of the black-out masks that must be worn, anyone can play. After the success of the London Olympics there's unprecedented excitement about the Paralympics, hopefully this will raise awareness of sports like goalball encouraging more people to give it a go.

“Our volunteers work hard and give up a lot of their time, so it was fantastic to reward them with a visit from the Paralympic lantern. Meeting members of the goalball team who will be competing at this year’s Paralympics really motivated our players and we’re all very excited about enjoying the games.”

Several York St John University students volunteer with York Goalball Club and have been hugely inspired by the sport. Catherine Hague, a second year Sports Society and Development student is at the Paralympics helping with goalball. Having been involved in the sport during her time at University, Catherine was asked to apply for the role by Olympic organisers.