‘Amazing’ Redbridge sports centre boosted efforts of GB’s Paralympics goalball teams

A partially-sighted 18-year-old Paralympian who represented Great Britain at goalball has said training facilities in Redbridge were “absolutely amazing”.

Georgina Bullen and team-mates who compete in the fast-paced sport which has won legions of fans, including Prince Harry, benefited from the Redbridge Sports & Leisure (RS&L) Centre.

The squad of five honed their teamwork skills, which are vital in the game in which all athletes play blindfolded, at the centre’s indoor arena in Forest Road, Barkingside.

Georgina, who spoke to the Recorder ahead of the GB women’s 2-1 quarter-final defeat against Sweden today, said: “It had really brilliant facilities, they adapted the whole place for us.”

The venue, which was also used for badminton, wrestling and judo training during the Olympics, was “retro-fitted” by Games organisers LOCOG to allow all goalball teams to use it.

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The British men’s and women’s team, who trained there in the run-up to the Paralympics, benefited from temporary sound-proofing, which is crucial because players rely on the sound of bells inside the match ball to judge its position.

Georgina, who took up the sport three-and-a-half years ago and who has a rare form of macular degeneration, said communication was key to the team’s success.

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She said: “We know each other very well and we’re very good at boosting each other up.”

And while they would love to have secured a medal, Georgina said it was an achievement for the team to have reached a quarter-final spot.

In goalball, teams take it in turns to shoot at goal, with the opposition crouching and flinging themselves to the ground to block shots.

The centre held an open day to showcase it last year, which business development manager Matt Reynolds said was “very well-received”.

He is now looking for further opportunities to link up with governing body Goalball UK to bring the sport back to Redbridge, something which Georgina said she is keen on.

And the whole Games experience has been positive for the centre, according to Matt.

He said: “We’ve had the best athletes in the world coming to the centre and people can now benefit were some of those people trained.”

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