As the Paralympic torch faded in Rio exactly one year ago the phones starting hopping and emails started a popping at Vision Sports. Parents, friends, young adults wanted to know how to take up athletics, blind football, tandem cycling and much more.
Vision Sports were ready and our then totally volunteer Sports Development Officer Rahim Nazarali got on the case.
His first stop was at St. Joseph’s School for Children with Visual Impairment in Drumcondra in Dublin.
School Principal Gwenda Johnston recalls “Last September Rahim Nazarali, Vision Sports, contacted us and came to speak with our pupils. He outlined the range of possibilities in sports for people with vision impairment. This was very inspiring both for our pupils and staff.
Rahim helped establish sports classes in judo, tennis, futsal and swimming. In addition, pupils attended a come and try water sports day at Dun Laoghaire Yacht Club. Many pupils came to the Vision Spoors annual flagship weekend MayFest where they met Paralympic star Jason Smyth, who made his debut at these very games 12 years previously.
Principal Gwenda Johnston sums it all up with “We are truly delighted for the input and inspiration from Vision Sports over the past year and look forward to maintaining and strengthening the link knowing that this will enhance opportunities for sports participation and inclusion for our pupils.”
Since last September Rahim Nazarali has traversed the country in search of vision impaired people, especially children and youth, who can gain the health and wellbeing benefits of sport participation. He’s already travelled to Cork, Kerry, Galway, Sligo, Louth and Meath. He has also had discussions with dozens of Sports Inclusion Disability Officers from Local Sports Partnerships and well as regional representatives of the National Council for the Blind.
Since last March Vision Sports has been able to employ Rahim on a part-time basis and this has proven of massive benefit.
Meanwhile, Vision Sports have provided funding for youth and children to participate in a variety of sports within the community and, in some cases, competition abroad.
Last February we funded and up and coming judo player to participate in a competition in Germany while in May we supported players at the international tennis tournament in Spain.
We also provided part funding for a tandem purchase by another up and coming para triathlon participant.
Outlining the vision for sport for children and youth with partial or no eyesight Vision Sports Chairperson Joe Geraghty explains “Our aim is to double the level of under 20s sports participation within the next 7 years. This will bring us into line with able bodied norms for this age category. Here at Vision Sports we live from day to day on a shoestring so we have a difficult, but achievable task.”
The next step on increasing youth and children sports participation by blind and vision people is Project 250. This project aims to bring 250 under 20’s into sport over 3 years. According to Joe “we have submitted a proposal to be designated charity at the Maynooth Students for Charity Galway Cycle 2018. Bernie Everard, sister-in-law of the late Shane Clyne, has championed our nomination and managed to get us from an initial list of 40 down to the final 4. Jason Smyth and I will join Bernie and friends for the Big Vote on Thursday 28th September.
“The speed at which we can deliver Project 250 and ultimately, down the line, double youth and children participation, is very much fund dependent. Fingers crossed!”