With the London Paralympics nearing commencement it’s time to have a look at another of the 21 sports that will be a part of the 2012 Games. After taking a look at the rough and tumble of Wheelchair Rugby, otherwise known as ‘Murderball’ it’s time for a change of pace and time to look at the rather unique sport of Goalball.
Goalball is a sport for vision-impaired athletes that was developed to help blind World War II veterans in their post-war rehabilitation. It became a Paralympic sport at the 1980 Paralympics after being a demonstration event at the 1976 event.
A game of Goalball consists of two teams of 3 visually impaired athletes, with one centre player and two wingers on each team. Three substitutes are also permitted.
The athletes with a lower level of blindness wear blindfolds when competing in the sport which allows for less visually impaired athletes to compete in the sport with people that have a higher level of blindness.
THE GAME ITSELF:
The game is played by the teams participating taking turns at rolling or throwing a ball that has a bell in it toward their opponents goal with the aim of the defensive team being to block the ball, by listening to where the bell sound is coming, from going into the goal at their respective end of the field.
The players must throw the ball within 1o seconds or an infraction has occurred.
The game has two 10 minute halves.
Possession is generally lost if a player throws the ball before the match official has indicated for play to begin, if the ball goes over the sideline, or the ball rebounds off a defending player, crossbar or goalposts and goes back over the centre line.
For more serious rule breaches a penalty throw is awarded if:
- Players interfere with their eyeshades
- Excessive noise is created which distracts from the ability to hear the bell in the ball
- If coaching comes from the benches after the referee has said “quite please”
- The ball does lands short of the opponents court, too long or too high
- Not being in team area when defending your goal line
- Delaying the game in a deliberate manner
- If the same player throws the ball for a 3rd time in a row
- For conduct against the spirit of the sport
When a penalty is awarded only one defender is allowed on the court, effectively like a football goalkeeper during a penalty shootout.
THE DEFENDING CHAMPIONS:
At the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, the women’s Goalball final was won by the United States of America in a very tight match with the USA prevailing over host nation China 6-5.
The men’s gold medal match was won by the Chinese team over Lithuania after being two goals down with less than a minute to go in the game, closing the gap and winning by one in the end.
The bronze medal was won in the men’s competition by the Swedish team and by the Danish team in the women’s event.