UK’s first VI Sports Academy launched

Sports Academy students lined up in the sports hall wearing their red kits. One row at the back are standing up, the front row are sitting in the bench amongst Ambassadors Danny Mills, Des Kelly, Laura Perry and Patron Dave Clarke with Guide Dog Ned. Sports Academy Coaches Aaron Ford, Adam Bendall and Dixie Dean stand at the sides.

BT Sport presenter, Des Kelly, hosted the launch of the UK’s first Sports Academy for people with a visual impairment at The Royal National College for the Blind (RNC) in Hereford on Friday 7 November.

Joined by Sir Philip Craven MBE, President of the International Paralympic Committee, Des, an ambassador for the Academy, watched demonstrations of blind football, goalball and VI golf; the three main sports on offer at the College. Fellow ambassadors former England footballer and BBC sports commentator Danny Mills and former RNC students Laura Perry and Dan English shared their love for sport with VIP guests.

“I’ve always been sporty,” said Laura. “I never dreamt I would be lining up as part of the GB Women’s squad, representing my country in a sport I love. I look forward to being an ambassador for the Academy. I didn’t even know goalball existed before I went to RNC!”

Laura and David Scott, a current student and Great Britain Men’s goalball player, took part the in demonstration of the game before the official launch of the Academy. Danny tried his hand at goalball, realising what a tough sport it is.

Sir Philip talked about the importance of disability sport, stating: “Sport is for everybody and can be an amazing vehicle for life. I’d like to get rid of the word ‘disability’ – it has no place in sport. People need to concentrate on what they can do and decide for themselves what that is. Sport is about fun, excitement, honesty and trust.”

Dave Clarke, former captain of the England and Team GB blind football team, who represented his country in multiple World Cups and Paralympic Games, is the Sports Academy’s patron. Alongside Keryn Seal, his successor, he was present for both the launch of the Academy and the subsequent draw for the IBSA Blind Football European Championships 2015. The Euros are set to take place at the College’s thePoint4 sports facility in August 2015.

Further information on the Sports Academy can be found on the RNC website and information on the Euros 2015 can be found at www.rnc.ac.uk and www.blindeuros.co.uk

Article written by Anika Backhouse, PR, Publications & Outreach Officer at RNC