Goalball is a paralympic sport designed for athletes with visual impairments. The sport was first introduced at the 1976 Paralympic Games in Toronto, Canada and is now practised worldwide.
Goalball is played by two teams of three players. The aim of the game is to throw the ball into the opponent’s goal, while defending your own team’s goal. The ball has a bell on the inside, so players can hear where the ball is and where it is going.
The players move around the pitch by sliding on the ground. The field is divided into three zones. Players throw the ball from their own zone and try to bounce into the opponent’s goal, with the ball having to bounce in the middle zone.
The game consists of two halves of 12 minutes each, with a three-minute break between halves. During the game, the crowd must not talk or make noise so as not to confuse the players. Each ball must also be played within 10 seconds, otherwise the team delaying play will receive a penalty.
There are three classes of participants in goalball, based on the degree of visual impairment. Class B1 players have very limited vision and play without sight, while Class B2 and B3 players are somewhat able to perceive visual information.
The playing field is also designed to enhance the players’ sensory experience, with tactile markings on the floor indicating the different zones and lines. Players use their bodies to feel the boundaries of the pitch and orientate themselves to the position of the ball. This means the sport requires a high degree of spatial awareness and precision, and also helps level the playing field for players with varying degrees of visual impairment.
During the game, players must wear blinded glasses to level the playing field so that all players are completely blind. This ensures that players with different degrees of visual impairment have an equal chance to compete. Players also use a unique throwing technique, where they spin the ball around their body before releasing it, to add more power and spin to the ball.