Dave Butler is a member of the Nottinghamshire county Goalball team and an aspiring Paralympic competitor. Here he tells RLSB about his journey into VI sports.
My name’s Dave, I’m 22, from Nottingham. I work for the My Sight Nottinghamshire, formerly known as the Nottinghamshire Royal Society for the Blind. At age 12 I was registered with CRD, a genetic disease I’ve had from birth; which came as a surprise as I’m the only person ever in my family with a sight condition.
A very stubborn PE teacher at my mainstream school got me into sports. He refused to leave me out of sports, no matter how difficult I found it, he pushed me all the way, tennis and cricket were practically impossible though.
I tried out for the school football team and made it, only later when the health and safety police stepped in, I was ‘demoted’ to the 5-a-side squad instead.
Disheartened, I stopped playing sports for a few years after school. Then I came to work at the NRSB where Faye Dale (the organisation’s Sports and Healthy Lifestyle Officer) and Ian Keetley (NRSB Operations Manager) picked me up and said that I had the right physique for sports, mainly Goalball.
Faye has coached me and Ian has been my gym buddy ever since and now I have a trial with the GB Paralympics team, so many thanks to those guys!
My team is Nottinghamshire Sheriffs Goalball, and I’ve been offered a year on the Blaby goalball team in Leicestershire where I will work towards making the GB squad. I train fortnightly with Notts and monthly with Blaby and hit the gym in between.
The benefits of sports
I learned a lot playing sports against sighted opponents at mainstream school, learned that you won’t always win so you learn to lose gracefully and also how to hide your emotions and mental weaknesses, which really helped me when I moved to VI sports.
I think it helps VI people stay in society and helps sighted people realise that blind people are also active and have lives.
I think the Paralympics are incredible, I couldn’t stop crying throughout the Opening Ceremony; tears of pride. Ideally, I would like the Paralympics to be scrapped and just have the Olympics. They could keep the different events and classifications, such as have the blades 100m followed by the able bodied 100m and just call it the Olympics! I don’t see why athletes need to be separated, but I know that will never happen.
My hopes for the future are to take part in European and World Championships for both club and country in Goalball, would be a dream come true to qualify and make the Rio squad also. I also hope to take Judo as far as possible, and somehow get back into football, at B2 level maybe.
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Are you interested in getting involved in sports? Check out our Sports without Limits programme specially designed for blind and partially sighted young people!