When Paralympian Brodie Smith takes to the goalball court in Tokyo on Wednesday 25 August, she’ll be part of a campaign with the potential to make history. The Tokyo 2020 Australian Women’s Goalball team, the Aussie Belles, could very well be the first to win a goalball medal at a Paralympics.
The talented 23-year-old is well placed to play her role too. She has already achieved some incredible firsts in the sport, including captaining and being the highest scorer in the Australian team’s historic gold medal win at the 2017 World Youth Championships.
Goalball is a sport specifically designed for athletes with vision loss. The aim is to throw a specially designed ball into the opponent’s goal and stop opponents from scoring using the body to block the ball.
Brodie first found the sport almost a decade ago, when she attended a goalball come-and-try event at a NextSense Braille camp. ‘Brodie pretty much fell in love with the sport from that day on,’ says Brodie’s mum, Jennifer.
Rosemaree Wills, Vision Teacher at NextSense, was part of Brodie’s journey, providing vision support to Brodie and her family during her critical school years. Brodie’s eye condition is degenerative, so her parents were focused on making sure she had the skills to maintain her independence throughout life.
‘NextSense vision support helps children like Brodie develop the skills and tools to access learning and reading materials, building confidence in their own abilities that will help maintain independence as their vision deteriorates,’ Rosemaree says.
Brodie’s success goes beyond the sporting field too. Alongside her sporting life, she is also in the final months of a Bachelor of Education degree at the University of Newcastle.
According to mum Jennifer, Brodie has always been motivated to succeed, ‘Brodie always has tried to have a positive attitude towards life and everything that is thrown at her. She strives to put 100% effort into all that she does.’
Jennifer says that support from NextSense helped Brodie reach for her goals. ‘NextSense Connected Services (formerly Teleschool) and braille camps* helped Brodie learn braille, showed her outstanding role models, and connected her to a group of peers that she maintains today.
‘The camps give children the chance to be with other children who are just like them, so they feel accepted and valued. It also provides the chance for parents to meet other parents, form a friendship, and offer encouragement. NextSense has been a wonderful support to our family.’