A MALVERN man who lost his sight in 2017 is urging more blind and partially-sighted people to get into sport and take up physical activity after the launch of a new See Sport Differently campaign.
Matthew Lancett, who is 45, has Left Hemianopia (LHH) after suffering a life-changing stroke four years ago.
He is actively involved in rugby and cricket and in 2019 was selected to represent England as part of the visually impaired Rugby team at the World Cup in Japan.
Now he is backing the campaign to encourage the UK’s 2million blind and partially sighted people to get more physically active.
He said: “I was really active before losing my sight, having always gone running and played football. Having to readjust and learn to cope with everything so suddenly was a challenge.
“I spoke to another visually impaired person who told me about the Worcester rugby team, so I went along and got involved, and that’s where I heard about cricket.
“The game is really fun, but the social aspect of it is amazing too – we’ve even won the local league!
“Playing rugby and cricket has made me realise that although I’ve lost my sight – I’ve gained other things through getting active again.
“It has improved my mental health after sight loss, introduced me to new people and I’ve had once in a lifetime experiences.”
See Sport Differently, a three-year campaign run by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) in partnership with British Blind Sport, aims to tackle lower levels of wellbeing amongst blind and partially sighted people.
It highlights the benefits of physical activity and demonstrates to blind, partially-sighted and sports industry alike that sight loss does not need to be a barrier to participation.
New research behind the See Sport Differently campaign shows that blind and partially sighted people are being put off from sport and exercise and are twice as likely to be completely inactive as other people.
See Sport Differently will address this by creating and promoting local opportunities to get more physically active and experience truly inclusive sport via the main campaign hub at: www.rnib.org.uk/see-sport-differently.
David Clarke, RNIB Director of Services and former Paralympics GB footballer, said: “I understand like most blind and partially sighted people how beneficial it is to stay fit and active, but for many of us having sight loss makes it difficult to actually get involved in physical sport.
“It doesn’t have to be that way and through the See Sport Differently campaign we want to show people that there are local activities to get involved in and we are also looking forward to working with the sports industry to help create more accessible and inclusive sporting opportunities.”
RNIB and British Blind Sport have received £1m in funding from Sport England to deliver the See Sport Differently initiative. Thanks to the players of the National Lottery, up to £600million has been made available to support communities throughout the UK during the Coronavirus crisis.