York St John University lecturer Robert Avery to referee at Paralympic event

Lecturer Robert Avery, who will referee the goalball match at National Paralympic Day

Lecturer Robert Avery, who will referee the goalball match at National Paralympic Day

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YORK St John University lecturer Robert Avery has been chosen to referee the goalball match at National Paralympic Day.

The second National Paralympic Day takes place on Saturday, August 30 at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in east London.

Avery will be one of two referees at the match between the Great Britain women’s squad and Belgium at the Copper Box Arena that featured in the 2012 games.

A senior lecturer in health and life sciences, Avery started refereeing two years ago after being involved in York St John’s Inclusive Activity Club where he coached goalball.

He wanted to get more involved in the sport so became a referee and this launched his second career.

Avery has refereed many domestic games and was awarded his level two in refereeing last year.

The official, who is also a director on the national governing body for Goalball, refereed his first international tournament in Belgium last September.

He said: “Participation levels have risen massively and we saw a boost after the Olympics. The three-year participation targets agreed with Sport England were reached within one year.”

Avery, whose background is in visual impairment rehab, said the sport was also very popular with spectators.

He said: “It’s a great sport, it’s completely unique as there’s no sighted equivalent. It’s a surreal environment, there’s complete silence and it’s very tense. It’s an exciting sport and the tension builds as everyone has to be so quiet.

“Next week will be a very different refereeing experience with the TV cameras and microphones in a 6,000 capacity venue, compared to the 20 to 30 spectators that are usually in Foss Sports Hall."

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