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How goalball helped make me a better person – Jenks, Hamilton

Date: May 3, 2018

Category: Goalball

By Andreja Kumer

As the USA men’s team prepare to take on 27 other countries at the 2018 IBSA Goalball World Championships in Malmö, Sweden, Joseph Hamilton and Andrew Jenks have spoken of their passion of the sport.

By the age of 10 Hamilton, who wears the No. 5, was completely blind and visited an adaptive sports camp for children at Western Michigan University. There he fell in love with goalball, playing it throughout his school life.

Ten years later he played for his country for the first time, travelling to the 1998 World Championships in Madrid, Spain. The atmosphere was interesting he says, because for the first time he was playing with those he had normally had to compete against at club level.

Fast-forward 10 more years and Hamilton has settled into his role well: “I like our atmosphere in the team now, it is competitive, our guys want the best for our team at the coming World Championships in Malmö in June. But we are also very loose, many players have a good sense of humour. But we understand when it is game time, there is a level of focus and intensity and we always try to match the level at which we are competing.”

He adds that it would be much more difficult without the Centre for Excellence Goalball Resident Programme in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Here the athletes have a goalball court and do strength and conditioning. Many of their top 10 US men’s and women’s players train there for extended periods of time. Other national teams might not get the same opportunity.

Like Hamilton, Jenks, who wears the No. 1, also started playing goalball at 10 years of age. He attended a sports day for blind and visually impaired children. It was here he saw Paralympian John Mulhern throwing the ball fast and thought it would be a good stepping stone for him to feel included and play on equal footing with his peers.

Hamilton also says he has tried making goalball his life, by organising training clinics for war veterans, which is funded by grants.

Jenks, who works as a teaching assistant, tries to use most of his free time for goalball and writing his PhD in Political Science and International Relations at the University of Delaware.

 “Goalball has not only helped make me a better person, through teaching me discipline and responsibility from a young age, but has also helped me learn about the situations of other disabled, especially blind people, the world over,” Jenks said. My involvement has certainly shaped my research on disability rights, which investigates the ways in which societies can create better access for disabled people.”

The USA men will compete at the 2018 IBSA Goalball World Championships in Malmö between 3-8 June, alongside the women’s team.

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