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Goalball session planned for Dingwall Academy offers taster for both sighted and non-sighted people with Maryburgh lass Erica Steel playing leading role


By Val Sweeney

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Erica Steel and mum Laura.
Erica Steel and mum Laura.

YOUNG people with sight loss are bringing a paralympic sport to the Highlands.

A Goalball taster session aimed at sighted and non-sighted people will be staged at Dingwall Academy on Saturday, March 26.

Originally developed as a rehabilitation programme for visually impaired World War II veterans, Goalball is inclusive as all players wear eyeshades and it uses a unique ball with audible bells.

The event, from noon to 3pm, is being organised by Goalball UK and Erica Steel (11) and Sarah Campbell (22), of Inspire Highland, a youth-led project supported by the Highland charity, Inspiring Young Voices.

Erica, of Maryburgh, lost her vision two years ago because of a brain tumour.

"Before I became blind I loved playing football but now people assume that because I’m blind I can’t play anymore," she said.

"I know people are trying to be kind but I don’t need protecting in cotton wool.

"I would love for there to be somewhere I could play sport with other people with sight loss."

Sarah, of Inverness, was diagnosed with the degenerative eye condition, retinitis pigmentosa, when she was in primary school.

"I want people to understand what life is like for a non-sighted person and help raise awareness for the need for disability sports as there is nothing at the moment in Highland for people who are blind and want to play football," she said.

Young people from Inspire Highland will be at the event to talk about the work of the group, speaking out about disability issues and additional support needs.

Emma Thomas, participation lead of Inspiring Young Voices, hoped the public would take part in the event.

"Everyone is welcome," she said.

"No previous experience is required – just a little bit of energy and lots of enthusiasm!

"This event is about having fun, laughing and celebrating young people who have disabilities and experience challenges in their lives."

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