Skip to content

World Blind Games: Meet the people training for the world's largest sporting competition for blind and visually impaired athletes

The World Blind Games is heading to Birmingham in August; it is the biggest sporting competition for blind and partially-sighted athletes; goalball, cricket, archery and judo some of the sports featured

Goalball is one of the sport's that will feature in the World Blind Games (picture: Goalball UK)
Image: Goalball is one of the sports that will feature in the World Blind Games (Picture: Goalball UK)

The largest sporting competition specifically for blind and partially-sighted athletes is heading to the UK for the first time next month.

Here we take a look at four of the sports featuring at the 2023 International Blind Sport Federation World Games and hear from those representing their country in Birmingham.


Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Everthing you need to know about Goalball - the largest sporting competition solely for blind and visually impaired athletes.

Referred to by some as sport's best kept secret, goalball was created to help rehabilitate soldiers who had lost their sight during the Second World War.

What is goalball?

  • An indoor, 3-a-side team sport, of attack and defence.
  • The aim of the game is to throw the ball along the floor into the opposition's goal before then defending your own goal. The team with the most goals wins.
  • You will need sportswear, eye shades, and padding. The use of eyeshades means that even fully sighted players can participate domestically.
  • The ball contains internal bells so players can track its movement via sound alone. Spectators and teams on the side remain silent during play to allow players to hear the ball.
  • The court is marked out with tactile lines so players can feel where they are.

(Source: British Blind Sport)

"Nobody really knows about it but once you try it, it's fast and addictive, you won't want to give it up," said Georgie Bullen.

Reaching the semi-finals in Birmingham would put the British side in a strong position to qualify for the Paralympics in Paris next year. The team have only competed in it once before, automatically qualifying for the home games in 2012.

Also See:

"The Paralympics is the holy grail," said Goalball UK Women Head Coach Aaron Ford.

"It's what we aspire to work towards and for a lot of us in the programme we've not been to the Paralympic Games and so for us it's huge."


Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

England’s blind and visually impaired cricket team are aiming for glory at August's International Blind Sport Federation World Games in Birmingham

The summer of cricket is more than just the battle for the Ashes as England's blind and visually impaired team look to take global glory at the World Games.

Selected key rules for blind and visually impaired cricket:

  • Bowlers must deliver underarm, with the ball bouncing in the bowler's half and the batter's half of the wicket to be a legal delivery
  • B1s - that's players with no sight - must bowl at least 40 percent of the total overs in each innings, they score double when they bat and have a partially sighted team mate run for them
  • The ball is plastic and has ball bearings in so the batter can hear where the ball is headed

(Source: ECB)

Taking on Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Australia, the side will be hosting their first international tournament and the venue to hold it makes it all that more special - Edgbaston.

"Winning at Edgbaston in that final, that would be the dream," said captain Ed Hossell.

"I think we can do it. We've got the ability and the home field advantage I think we can really look to use that."

For all-rounder Mo Khatri, the opportunity to do more than just win the tournament is driving him on.

"We want to win, however showcasing our skillset and leaving a legacy and leaving this sport in a place where so many other blind and partially-sighted people know they can do something is even more important."


Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Trish Gracesemith explains how competitive blind archery works and how the sport changed her life

It's perhaps not the first sport you would associate with blind and visually impaired athletes but competitive blind archery has taken place since the early 1970s. For Trish Gracesemith, the sport has changed her life.

"It's like I went from feeling sorry for myself most nights to 'I can actually do something,' she said.

"I described it someone once as feeling my inner self fly."

After having numerous strokes, Trish's eyesight progressively worsened.

"It's like trying to see through thick cotton wool or fog that won't move," she explained.

"I hadn't realised my sight was going that quickly before I trapped my hand in a car door, which broke some bones in my hand and it's at that point I realised it wasn't going to go away."

What sighting aids do the archers have?

  • Foot locators to ensure your feet stay in the same position for each shot.
  • Tactile sight on a tripod to help you line up with the centre of the target
  • A sighted assistant (known as a spotter) to help you shoot safely and to tell you where the arrows hit the target.

(Source: British Blind Sport)

Trish comes from West Bromwich, just six miles from where the competition will be held.

"I'm a bag of nerves at the best of times but I imagine I'll be saying 'I don't want to go through the door!'

"I'm looking forward to it."


Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Paralympic judo champion Chris Skelley is competing with friend and housemate Evan Molloy at the International Blind Sport Federation World Games in Birmingham which is the first time it is held in the UK.

Friends, housemates and competing together for medals. Evan Molloy and Chris Skelley's preparations for the World Games is ramping up.

Skelley is a paralympic gold medallist and has 19 medals to his name in his judo career. His journey in the sport accelerated as his sight worsened aged 17.

"I started wearing blindfolds in sighted competitions and I was beating people who were sighted and it was causing a bit of a stir around the British judo circuit and then I met the paralympic coach at an event and talked to him about it and the rest is history," he said.

The rules are the same as non-disabled judo, with one exception. Visually impaired participants start competing gripped together, as opposed to the off-grip technique for non-disabled competitors. (Source: British Blind Sport).

For Molloy, judo has also played a crucial role in his life away from the dojo. He used to struggle with epilepsy, having up to 40 seizures a week at their worst but has now gone three and a half years without one.

"It teaches you to be disciplined - you need to get your sleep, you need to eat well, recover well and having all of those attributes and taking them on board definitely helped getting the condition under control for me."

They live together when training in the week - an interesting turn of events for Molloy who knew Skelley well before training with the paralympic champion.

"In 2016 I was at home with my family and I was literally glued to the television set because I was watching Skelley in Rio.

"It just made me think how I wanted to do that, I want that to be me.

"I'm living with the man I viewed as a hero to a certain extent."

For more information about any of the sports featuring at the World Games or for detail regarding how to join a local club, visit

Around Sky