Sport and leisure

Blind and partially sighted people get involved in all kinds of sport. Why not try your hand at rock climbing, rugby, athletics or archery?

There are some sports which are especially adapted for blind and partially sighted young people.

Discover the variety of sporting opportunities

Archery

British Blind Sport Archery

Visually impaired archers can aspire to many levels of archery, from simply being a recreational archer to being local, regional, national and international competitors. You can find out more on the Archery pages of the British Blind Sport website.

Blind cricket

The main difference between standard cricket and blind cricket is the ball. A size three football is used in UK blind cricket to help the partially sighted players to see it. It's filled with ball bearings to allow the totally blind players to hear it.

Blind Cricket England & Wales (BCEW).

The BCEW have been working in partnership with British Blind Sport and the England and Wales Cricket Board since 2006 to deliver competitive cricket for those who are blind or partially sighted running national and international competitions. Find out more about blind cricket from youth development, the national league and cup competitions to the England team. Find out more on the BCEW website.

Blind Football

Blind Football is a fast paced 5-a-side football played by visually impaired athletes using a ball with a noise-making device inside. It is played on a smaller pitch surrounded with a rebound wall. The sport is played with no throw-ins and no offside rule, which ensures non-stop action. Matches are played over two halves of 25 minutes each, plus 10 minutes for half-time. Blind football matches involve two teams with four outfield players and a goalkeeper. The outfield players are visually impaired (VI) and wear eyeshades to ensure fairness. The goalkeeper may be fully or partially sighted.

The game was only introduced as a Paralympic event in 2004. There is more dribbling and short passing than in the mainstream sport, and crowds remain quiet during play to ensure that players can hear the ball, their team-mates and opposition players.

British Blind Sport runs the national 5-a-side football league for visually impaired players. It also hosts football development days throughout the country and an annual national schools tournament (for under 18's).

The FA run both an England Partially Sighted team and an England Blind team football. These teams compete at the European Championships and the World Cup.

You can read more about blind football at:

Ajmal's story

Ajmal plays in the Blind English Football team. He says

“I've been playing football since I was 4 and I started playing in tournaments when I was at school. When I went to Royal National College (RNC), I joined the team and started playing in competitions. The RNC football coach is also the coach of the English blind football squad and he selected me for the team.”

“It would be great if more people could get involved. At the moment we only have four club teams in the UK while Spain has 80 and Brazil has over 600.”

“There are 12 of us in the national squad and we are always looking for new talent. Try and play as much as you can when you are at school.”

You can watch footage of David Beckham playing blind football on YouTube. 

Going to the football?

Audio description at sports venues and Soccer Sight aims to bring football commentary to blind and partially sighted people at every professional club in England and Wales. There's also audio description at some sports venues.

Blind Tennis (Sound Ball)

Blind Tennis is played on either a badminton court or a standard tennis court using a short tennis racket and an adapted spongy ball that makes a noise when it bounces. Balls can be either black or fluorescent green to give maximum contrast with the colour of the sports hall. The standard rules of tennis apply with just a few modifications. Just like standard tennis, you can play singles or doubles. Sighted players can play against players with sight loss, but they're allowed only one bounce and no volley.

Tennis Foundation

The Tennis Foundation is supporting the rapid growth of this sport with it's partners including British Blind Sport.

Watch a video of Odette Battarel talking about Sound Ball Tennis.

Bowls

The Scottish Association for Blind Bowlers - SABB

Although this skilful and fascinating game has been around for centuries, it was not until the late 1950s that blind people were introduced to the sport in Scotland. By the use of minor variations, blind and sighted people are able to play together as these variations do not infringe upon, or alter in any way the basic rules of the game. But they certainly do improve the standard of bowling.

There are 12 clubs in the association at the present time, and all are seeking new members and volunteers (bowling assistants). A full list of clubs and contacts will be found on the Scottish Association of Blind Bowlers website

Diving

Scubability

Scuba diving is one of the few sports that crosses many barriers and it is fun to participate regardless of your abilities. You can find out more about diving and how you can get involved on the Scubability website.

Goalball

Goalball is a three-a-side team game, developed for blind and partially sighted players. Individuals with full sight can also play. The ball has bells inside it so you can hear where it is. The game is played on an indoor court or area, with tactile markings so you know your position on the court.

Watch Goalball in action

Students at the University of Portsmouth have created a film focusing on Joe Pitt, a student with albinism. To hear Joe's story and experiences as Chairman of the Hampshire goalball club, his relationship with his condition and his guide dog Cyber, watch the film.

As the official broadcaster of the London 2012 Paralympic games, Channel 4 Paralympics presenter Daraine Mulvihill ponders how the profile of lesser-known sports like goalball can be increased to a wider audience. You can Watch the film here.

Golf

England & Wales blind golf

England & Wales blind golf is a registered Charity, formed in 1982, with the principle aim of providing registered blind people with the opportunity to participate and compete in the great game of golf. Blind Golf is played strictly to the Royal & Ancient Rules of Golf with the exception that players are allowed to ground their club in a hazard.

Scottish Blind Golf Society

The Scottish Blind Golf Society is the only registered charity which is a voluntarily run organisation, providing quality competition and training in golf for registered blind and visually impaired people in Scotland, recognised as a governing body by The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews.

Off- road driving

Off-road driving for young people who are blind or partially sighted proves to be a very popular event. Many organisations provide the opportunity for young people to spend the day driving different vehicles and also taking part in other adventurous activities. Find out more about Off-road driving on the Action for blind people website.

Sailing

East Anglian Sailing Trust

East Anglian Sailing Trust provides opportunities for sailing for visually impaired.  For further details contact Barbara Dutch cruisingsec-@e-a-s-t.org.uk, or telephone 01473326911.

Blind Sailing

Blind Sailing is a Registered Charity, which aims is to help blind and partially sighted people sail at all levels. They organise regular training sessions and racing events, provide coaching and help to enable novices learn to sail.

Sailability

This organisation provides a copy of the 124 page Sailing Site Guide, showing all sailing clubs approved to cater for visually impaired.  This shows hundreds of clubs using rivers, lakes, gravel pits, reservoirs and the sea throughout the UK.  Get your copy to find your local sailing club.  Call 08445569550 or visit

Visually Impaired Sailing Association of Great Britain

VI-SA-GB is a membership organisation led and operated by an executive committee for all members and its underlying philosophy is that the world of offshore sailing and blue water exploration is for everyone.

Shooting

There are nearly 30 clubs in Britain that offer blind/VI shooting, and more are becoming involved.  For more information, contact the Disabled Shooting Project or call Liz Woodall on 07527579686 or email dsp@disabledshooting.org.uk.

Skiiing and Snowboarding

Snowsport England

Snowsport England is the Governing Body for English skiers and snowboarders and is recognised by Sport England, the SRA (Sport and Recreational Alliance) and the British Olympic Association. No matter what your disability there is no excuse for staying off the slopes. Most ski slopes and clubs have facilities for disabled skiers and there have been many advances in equipment in recent years which has made the sport even more accessible. Find out more by visiting the Disability section of the Snowsport England website.

Tenpin Bowling

Tenpin bowling is a sport that blind and partially sighted people of all ages and abilities can play competitively or for recreation. Modern day bowling centres have computerised scoring and lane glancers (barriers) which make the sport more competitive and enjoyable. The British Blind Sport leagues use a handicap system that allows all to compete on a level footing regardless of sight level. 

British Blind Sport organises taster days and national leagues.  For further information visit the Bowling pages of the British Blind Sport website.

Action for Blind People - Actionnaires clubs

From parties, bowling, swimming and rock climbing to art and dance, with the Action for Blind People regional Actionnaires clubs, there are lots of activities going on all over the country.

Actionnaires is a sport and activity club for children and young people aged 8 to 16 run by Action for Blind People. Over 16s are also welcome and are encouraged to take on a leadership role at the clubs! 
 
Clubs offer a range of activities from music, drumming, ten pin bowling to art and dance. These activities are in addition to the variety of sports on offer, including swimming, athletics, basketball, goalball, judo and rock climbing.

All activities are organised to ensure children and young people can take part regardless of their vision.

Thom's experience

Thom has nystagmus and myopia. He had a tough time with sport when he was younger, both in and out of school. See how Actionnaires helped him find a love for sport and even become a sports coach!

Find out more!

There is a whole range of activities available across the country. Find out what is on in the coming weeks at your local Actionnaires club with the Action for Blind People Activities Calendar.

There are a whole range of activities going on across the country. Find out what's coming up with the Action for Blind People Activities Calendar.

Sporting Organisations

British Blind Sport

British Blind Sport aims to ensure that sport and leisure facilities are accessible to every blind or partially sighted person in the UK, with the intention of improving their physical health and self esteem. Adults and children are encouraged to participate at whatever level they choose be it grassroots or up to international competitive level. Sports include: Archery, Athletics, Cricket, Football, Goalball, Shooting, Ten pin bowling.

For further information visit: british blind sports or call  01926 424247 or e-mail: info@britishblindsport.org.uk

British Paralympics Association

The British Paralympic Association (BPA) are the National Paralympic Committee (NPC) for Great Britain and are responsible for the selection, preparation, entering, funding and management of the Great Britain and Northern Ireland team at the Paralympic Games. Find out more about the ParalympicsGB team on the British Paralympic Association website.

Metro sport

Metro is a London based Sports and Social Club for blind and partially sighted people of all ages. Members include many of the UK’s top international sports men and women, as well as those who are new to sport or who want to enjoy less competitive activities. For further information visit the Metro blind sport website.

Disability Sport Wales

The Disability Sport Wales National Community Development Programme is a joint initiative between Sport Wales, the Federation of Disability Sport Wales and the 22 local authorities across Wales. The scheme is aimed at developing quality community based sporting and recreational opportunities for disabled people throughout Wales. For details on Volunteering opportunities visit the Disability sport wales website

Please note: All organisations mentioned on this page are not endorsed or recommended by RNIB. Other organisations are available which offer similar opportunities.

Tell us your sporting stories

If you have a passion for sport, why not tell us about it? Email us at cypf@rnib.org.uk and you could see your story appear on this website!

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