A national school competition programme to promote goalball is to be launched in Britain, it has been announced.
Goalball UK has been awarded nearly £100,000 ($142,000/€115,000) by Children In Need, the BBC's UK charity, to deliver after school goalball activities and competitive opportunities to blind, partially sighted and disadvantaged children and young people.
The project will work with children aged under 11 and 18, coaching young people with visual impairments alongside their sighted peers.
It will also give them the opportunity to compete with other teams in the Goalball National Schools Competition Programme.
"We’re thrilled to receive such a generous grant from BBC Children in Need and can’t wait to get this new programme under way," Mark Winder, chief executive of Goalball UK, said.
"All too often visually impaired children and young people struggle to find challenging and enjoyable activities.
"Seventy per cent of the estimated 25,000 blind and VI (visually impaired) children in the UK are in mainstream school."
Winder added: "But it is a sad reality that many do not have equal access to sport in school due to their additional needs - isolating them from their peers and denying them the skills, exercise and psychological benefits of team sport.
"We hope this new initiative will go some way to addressing this issue by making goalball accessible to both sighted and VI children in a school setting.
"As the sport is played with blackout goggles, anyone can participate, allowing VI and non-VI people to compete on an even playing field.
"At a club level, we often see players bring their sighted friends and siblings to training as it is something they can enjoy together. Goalball smashes perceptions of visual impairment and helps break down the barriers that hold VI children back.
"The ambition is to build on after-school engagement to create regional and, eventually, national tournaments so we can give disadvantaged children the chance to compete in world class venues.
"BBC Children in Need is an inspirational charity.
"I would like to thank them for believing in us and look forward to working with them to transform even more lives."