Goalball UK High-Performance Lead Gary Fraser has praised the British Elite Athletes Association’s role in helping to professionalise the sport and its selection process.
Since joining Goalball UK in June 2022 Gary has taken steps to advance the setup as the United Kingdom strives to return its team to the Paralympics for the first time since 2012.
A particular area of support provided by the BEAA has come in selection, which for a team sport can be especially challenging. Our staff can advise sports on their selection policies, sit as independent observers during selection meetings, and help athletes to appeal decisions.
“We use the BEAA in all our selections for the World Games and European Championships, which meant we had someone impartial and independent sitting on the panel,” Gary says.
“That was important to follow a process, which I knew we would, but it also shows the athletes that we’re professional in how we select them. Team sports are quite subjective anyway but having a robust selection process shows we’re professionalising what we’re doing and having the BEAA involved in that helps.
“I know some [athletes] have reached out already following selections to get a bit of advice when they haven’t been selected, which is great.
“The other element around professionalising it is knowing that there’s a support body out there for athletes designed to support athletes. [The BEAA] is there should they have any issues or problems anything they want to raise. For me, as a sport it’s important we’re transparent and allow the athletes to do that and express themselves so we can have a professional and open environment.”
BEAA staff visited Goalball UK’s base in Sheffield earlier in 2023, a move Gary says has helped to increase awareness among athletes.
He explains: “Since I’ve come in that relationship has developed and grown a bit… I’ve built a relationship with Fiona [Semple, Athlete Support Manager] in the main around how the BEAA can support us as a sport and how our sport and athletes can benefit.
“It was a conscious move because as I’m keen to develop the high-performance programme within goalball… to professionalise things a bit more I felt that the additional support the BEAA could offer would help.
“We did a joint training camp in March this year and Fiona and Milly [Kellyman, Athlete Community Manager] both came along and did a presentation on the BEAA and how they can support athletes and the sport. Some had heard of the BAC previously but not all of them, and not all of them had support.
“It’s great for Fiona and the BEAA but it’s also really good for our athletes and coaches and the sport to see people supporting us. Actually being there in person. Fiona’s Scottish and came down from the west coast of Scotland, so she could have easily not come, which says a lot about her and the BEAA generally from my point of view.”
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