I have to be pretty motivated to get out of bed before 7am on a Sunday, and yesterday I was. Firstly because the Channel 4 advertising campaign for the Paralympics has been so good. I loved the messages "thanks for the warm up" and "meet the superhumans". Secondly, because I was off to watch one of the Papworth Trust grant winners, Georgina Bullen, play goalball for Great Britain. After months of emails and phone calls I would finally meet Georgina and her lovely Mum Jackie in person, and what a day to do it!
Goalball is fast paced: players must shoot the ball at the opposition's net within 10 seconds of receiving it. All the players are blind folded to create an even playing field, as players have differing levels of visual impairment. Each team is made up of 3 players, and defendants arrange themselves across the goal in a very cool-looking formation to block it (think Charlie's Angels crossed with Cat Woman). The defendants use the sound of a bell in the ball to guide them as it is thrown, and they leap to save the goal. As volunteer Games Maker Sarah commented today, "it would be hard enough without the blind fold".
This was the 3rd match for the Paralympics GB women's team, after losing against defending champions China and a draw with Finland. Today was a different story. As the Brazilian team made various substitutions over the course of the game, the GB team seemed to grow stronger and more confident as they played. Georgina played in Centre, and her team won with a final score of 3-1. It was great to see the cheering crowds hold up flags and banners, and it was touching to see the team celebrate by jumping in the air and hugging each other.
Georgina was greeted after the match by a large family group including her 3 brothers, who all looked incredibly proud. I wonder if my ball skills would be better if I had grown up with 3 brothers? (probably not). She was happy and excited, and seemed confident and relaxed about the next match against Denmark at 9am on Tuesday. Keep your fingers crossed for her!
Get involved: Have the Paralympics made you want to try a new sport, or to just be more active from day to day? Let us know by emailing us at email@example.com.
By Kate Coghlan, Papworth Trust
Above: Jackie and Georgina after the match.
Top left: Georgina and Kate.
Copyright Paul Coghlan / Papworth Trust 2012.