Goalball UK have called on the British Government to give them extra funding which they claim will "transform lives" in the nation – after recent research revealed the sport increases young visually impaired people's chances of being in full time education or employment by 47 per cent.
The governing body’s plea comes amid a re-evaluation of how funding is distributed to sports in Britain by the Department of Media, Culture and Sport.
Sports Minister Tracey Crouch will review submissions for extra funding from various different sporting bodies and Goalball UK are one of those to press their case.
They claim that current restraints mean only one per cent of visually impaired people in the nation have access to their facilities and training.
Goalball was one of six Olympic and Paralympic sports, along with basketball, synchronised swimming, wheelchair fencing, water polo and visually impaired football, to have their funding cut in the build-up to Rio 2016, a decision which was upheld by UK Sport.
“The evidence we have shared with Government proves our assertion that goalball transforms lives,” Goalball UK chief executive Mike Reilly said.
“The benefits are tangible – for the individuals, their families and communities and for the UK given the increased contribution they make through their employment and increased independence.
“This is not participation for participation’s sake but a solid economic strategy.
“For relatively little investment, our clubs act as a crucial training and support network for visually impaired people.
“For many of our players, playing goalball has meant the difference between a life reliant on benefits and a career.”
The research into the effect of goalball, which was carried out at the UK's elite clubs, on the visually impaired community has shown those involved in the sport are more likely of securing a full-time job or a place in full-time education.
These results are in stark contrast to national figures, which suggest more than four in ten visually impaired young people are unemployed or not in education.
“Our clubs and national squads are incredible when it comes to covering their costs to keep running, and we have an army of volunteers working behind the scenes,” Reilly added.
“But if we had access to funding grants that cover health, education and welfare in addition to sport, we could reach beyond that one per cent and empower thousands of visually impaired people to fully participate in society and make their contribution to the UK.”
March 2014: Goalball UK "surprised and disappointed" after funding appeal rejected
February 2014: Goalball UK chief "disappointed" by UK Sport funding snub
February 2014: Seven Olympic and Paralympic sports suffer complete funding cut by UK Sport