Matthew playing rugby

Matthew, aged 45, has Left hemianopia (LHH), caused by a life-changing stroke that left him without sight in both eyes in 2017. Having always been active, he had to readjust and learn to cope without vision.  

Matthew has kept motivated through sport. He’s actively involved in rugby and cricket and in 2019, was selected to represent England, as part of the visually impaired Rugby team at the World Cup in Japan.  

Finding sport after sight loss 

“I was really active before losing my sight, having always gone running and played football. Having to readjust and learn to cope with everything so suddenly was a challenge. At first, I felt like I had lost everything – my job, driving licence, hobbies.

"Then I spoke to another visually impaired person who told me about the Worcester rugby team, so I went along and got involved, and that’s where I heard about cricket. The game is really fun, but the social aspect of it is amazing too – we’ve even won the local league."

Visually impaired cricket 

"Visually impaired cricket is really well safeguarded. They play with a slightly bigger ball with beans inside, so you can hear it coming and the team is quite vocal. You can get more out of it if you want to run after the ball, so it can be adapted. Cricket is also a model for a team game, everyone shares their successes and has a real sense of team spirit." 

Sport and wellbeing 

"Getting into rugby and cricket got me out of a dark place. For the first year after losing my sight, I just sat at home watching television and I found that frustrating. Exercise gets your endorphins going, it’s fun and really good for your mental health."

Advice for a visually impaired person wanting to get involved in sport 

"There’s plenty of opportunities for everyone. Sport can be adapted to suit your needs, so don’t be scared to get involved. 

"Playing rugby and cricket has made me realise that although I’ve lost my sight, I’ve gained other things through getting active again. It has improved my mental health after sight loss, introduced me to new people and I’ve had once in a lifetime experiences.”