Shamaila is in her early 20s and lost her sight at around the age of eight, she plays the paralympic sport of goalball for the Nottingham Sheriffs elite goalball team and also enjoys blind cricket.
“I felt completely excluded from sport at school because of my sight loss, when you can’t see where the ball is to kick it into the goal, hit it was a cricket bat or even pass it to one of your netball teammates, there really is nothing on offer for you at school. I was always told by PE teachers to sit on the sidelines because they really didn’t know what to do with me in lessons.
“That all changed when I came to Nottingham as a student and was persuaded to give blind sports ago – I didn’t even know there was such a thing as ‘blind sports’ to be honest!
“My first goalball tournament was just two weeks after I started training with the Nottingham Sheriffs Goalball Club, I remember we came last! Fortunately, that didn’t put me off and since then the team has steadily moved up the ranking, winning loads of competitions. ”
“Incredibly this resulted in me being spotted by Goalball England and being invited to join the national squad and travel to international tournaments all over Europe.
“I’m now addicted to sport, playing both goalball and blind cricket and getting involved in taster sessions in a range of sports from rambling to self-defence, but goalball remains my first love. Everyone’s equal when they play goalball, there’s no discrimination against me because I can’t see the ball anymore!
“It’s a great way to keep fit and make new friends goalball can be brutal as you’re basically using your own body as a goal post, but the adrenalin rush is fantastic and I love it! It’s a great team sport but also a brilliant one on one test of your reactions, you just can’t beat it, it’s a great sport for sighted and visually impaired player alike.”
“I’ve made life-long friends through goalball and I’ve travelled to places I would never have got to otherwise. I come from a family that didn’t encourage girls into sport or independent travel – especially girls with disabilities who should be sheltered, protected and in my opinion smothered.
“I’ve grown in confidence since playing sport, helping to coach the youngsters and volunteering as a service user representative at My Sight Notts, which helped me find my first job. Sport has opened up my life opportunities without a shadow of a doubt and I’m so grateful.”