Sports have a go day, By Marie

This past Saturday, I attended the Thomas Pocklington Trust Sight loss Councils get Active in Greater Manchester day. It was an opportunity for blind and partially sighted people to have a try at a variety of sports and leisure activities. Everything from the well known sports for blind and partially participants like Goal Ball and Blind Football, to the newer sports like Blind baseball and Indoor curling.

Each attendee could choose four activities, and had the opportunity to book in for a massage if they wanted and it was a great opportunity to meet other blind and partially sighted people in the area.

Upon arriving at a large academy, we were booked in by a volunteer and were given the list of sports we could choose from.

VI Tennis

Adaptive cycling 


Blind baseball 







Were amongst the large variety to choose from.

I picked, Cycling, Tennis, Baseball and Curling.

I had tried Tennis before and have been on a tandem a long time ago but the other two options I did not even know existed.

The cycling took place outside and we were shown a lot of different adaptive bikes, some for blind and some for those with other needs like a hand crank bike.

Myself and a partially sighted friend, tried out a side by side bike which was almost like a double go cart with seats and pedals for each with the pilate on the right having control of the steering. It was a lot of fun and I enjoyed trying this. 

We also went on a tandem which was a little more challenging but fun all the same.

Next up was VI Tennis. I have tried this once before with another friend at his regular tennis club. 

Blind or VI Tennis is a game played according to visual acuity. Like with many blind sports, how much you can see will depend on the level in which you play and can often adjust the rules for your particular category.

I would be classified as a B1 player, someone with no useful vision. 

The game is played with a foam ball with either ball bearings or a small bell inside. Colours can be changed if someone has more visual acuity. A standard tennis racket is used and the ball can bounce more than once like in the regular game. The net is lower and the court is marked out with tactile strips to keep the players orientated within the court.

I want to love this sport but I am quite frankly rather rubbish at it. It certainly is a fabulous sport and is a hot contender for the International Blind sports association competition that is taking place as I write this. The coach is a top tennis player himself so it was great to get some coaching from him.

Lunch was next and I was certainly ready for this.

The afternoon sessions consisted of baseball and Curling.

I had no idea about these particular sports so it was refreshing to  try something I was not familiar with.

Baseball, is also played with a sound ball and everyone wears shades to make the game equal as is done in Goal Ball, [probably the most known of the blind sports].

We started off with foam bats and a plastic ball to emulate the hitting of the ball when in play. Unlike in regular baseball, you are not bowled the ball and you hit it off your own steam. 

Once we had grasped this, we then started hitting the plastic balls toward the fence. The coaches were brilliant at giving feedback and considering this sport is only four years old in the UK, and we’ve had a pandemic between that, it’s brilliant what the team have already achieved.

I was first up to bat in our group and we then used the aluminium bats with the regular sound ball. To make the runs, we used sounds, the first base was a sound box that omitted a car alarm sound. Base two, which you had to touch this base has a sighted participant who uses a clapper type device and as you get closer to two, the person will speed up the clapping and you have to shuffle into two. We only played with two bases on this taster session and I had two goes at batting and loved it! 

We learned a little about fielding, although I did not try this on the day as the session was at its end. The fielders almost filed like in goal  ball, which is using your body like a barrier. Once a fielder has the ball, they can then throw to base two who will get the batter out.

I then went onto indoor curling which was nothing like what I expected. I’ve heard of the on ice curling but this is a game usually played in church halls and such places. Similar in play to green goals, but played with an object called a dice which is a wooden structure with wheels on the bottom. The participants have to rev it like I remember doing with cars as a child, there times and on the third let it fly across the floor and onto the mat target at the end. Each team has a colour and the team with the most dice on the matt at the end, win. This is not a specific game for the blind but one that absolutely can be enjoyed for blind and partially sighted players.

I didn’t have a go at this one as it did require getting on the ground on your knees, and I have a very dodgy knee at the minute and thought I wouldn’t do it any good doing this, which was why I didn’t play some goal ball this time, a game I do love playing.

Overall, the day was brilliant and I enjoyed meeting other people and trying new activities. I would definitely go to another of these activity days and any other events that the greater Manchester Sight Loss Councils organised. A fabulous event and great we were given the opportunity to feedback at the end of the day to.


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