Goalball is the only true hand-ear coordination game in the world. Invented in the 1940's to help in the rehabilitation of soldiers blinded in the second world war, goalball is now a Paralympic sport that is played in over 100 countries around the world. It is also the only true sport where blind, vision-impaired and fully sighted people can play the same game at the same time.
The game is played on a volleyball-sized court marked out with taped down string and a goal at each end covering the full width of the court. Two teams of up to six players, three of each on the court at a time, try to defend their goal from throws of a ball from the other end of the court. After either blocking a goal or a score, the team then returns the ball to the opposition, throwing the ball as fast as they can down to the other end of the court in an attempt to score.
The ball itself is the size and weight of a basketball, weighs around 1kg, is flat and so does not bounce and has a bell inside it, so that the blindfolded players can only hear and move in response to its sound. All players are blindfolded, and so play equally in listening and moving to stop the ball entering their goal.
A game lasts for two 12-minute halves and is highly aerobic, as players stand to throw and crouch and dive to stop the ball, moving quickly around the court to both attack and defend. Games can be played by all ages and both genders, in both mixed and graded competitions.
Attendance at a Paralympics and being part of a national goalball squad is very prestigious and difficult to achieve as only 12 countries can attend. However, there are many satellite tournaments held around the world to grade and qualify athletes for the Paralympics, and the sport is also played both for enjoyment as well as a rehabilitation technique for children born blind and those people losing sight later in life.
Goalball New Zealand is a relatively new organisation, but it is nonetheless committed to advancing the game in all forms and at all levels in New Zealand, including nationally, regionally and at club and community levels.