Goalball is a unique sport, designed exclusively for athletes with a vision impairment. It was invented in 1946 in an effort to rehabilitate the blind veterans from World War II, and made its Paralympic debut in 1976 in Toronto, Canada. Goalball continues to be a Paralympic sport, with pathways for both Men and Women to compete at International level.
Goalball’s distinctive competition atmosphere sets it apart from any other sporting experience. The games are required to be kept silent as 3 players on each team, who are completely blindfolded by “blackout” eyeshades, use their entire body to block a 1.25kg audible ball from making it into the opponent’s goal. Each goal is 1.3 metres in height and spans the entirety of the backcourt – think of it as the opposite of Dodgeball.
This intense game allows players of all degrees of vision to participate at an equal level together. Players are then able to orientate themselves to the 18 x 9-metre court through tactile line-markings. Players must react instantly to the sound of the bells inside the ball that help the players distinguish where the opposition has thrown it from. The duration of a Goalball game lasts for two 12 minute halves with a 3 minute half time break, with the average game lasting around 50 minutes.
Rules & Equipment
The court used for goalball is an 18m x 9m rectangle. Starting from the final lines, where the goalposts are placed, a 9m x 3m team area and a 9m x 3m landing area for each team are marked. The remaining 9m x 6m area, between the two landing areas, is called the neutral area, which is divided into two parts by the centre line. With the exception of the final lines, all court markings are tactile to help players orientate themselves on the court.
Regulation goals measure 9m (equal to the length of the court) x 1.3m.
The ball used for International goalball competition is made of rubber, weighs 1.25kg and has a circumference of approximately 76cm. It has eight holes and there are noise bells inside.
All competitors must wear blackout masks at all times on court. At all major competitions, players have their eyes covered by gauze patches. Penalties are given if a player touches the blackout mask during play. This ensures that the level of vision of all players is equal.
Who is eligible to compete in goalball?
Only athletes with a vision impairment affecting both eyes are eligible to compete in goalball at an International Level.
At a local level and at state championships level, competition is open to all, including those that are not classifiable (Fully sighted).
What are the classes?
Athletes are classified into one of three classes depending on their level of vision. The International classes in goalball are B1, B2 and B3.
How do I get classified?
Athletes can request a classification using the Get Involved and Get Classified registration form.
Currently, there are a number of pathways available for Goalball athletes.
Each of the existing state-based Goalball Associations has programs available for children to learn the game and take part in appropriate competition.
Australian Goalball Championships
Current members of state-based Goalball Associations are eligible to seek selection for the national championships, which are held annually on a rotating basis. There are usually Junior, Youth and Senior divisions offered at these championships, for Boys and Girls, Men and Women.
There are a number of avenues available for High Performance and Elite athletes to compete on the International Stage for Australia. Currently, there are national senior teams for Men (Aussie Storm) and Women (Aussie Belle’s). These teams are eligible to seek qualification for the Paralympic Games, they also compete in World Championships and a variety of IBSA sanctioned events around the world.
There are also national Youth squads for both boys and girls, with World Youth Championships held every 2 years.
Who to Contact?
Goalball Australia is the National body for Goalball in Australia and can provide information on the sport, pathways, classification and much more. At a local level, there are state-based Goalball Associations in each mainland state, who can assist with people wanting to get involved for the first time or wanting to take part in local competition.
Blind Sports Australia work closely with Goalball Australia to register and licence players for International Competition, as BSA is the Australian Member Federation for the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA), who govern the sport of Goalball.
Paralympics Australia can assist with the Classification process and work with Goalball Australia and Blind Sports Australia, to assist athletes on Paralympic pathways.
If you want more information on what International Goalball Events are coming up, visit the IBSA Goalball Events page at https://goalball.sport/competitions/upcoming/
Goalball Australia Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Goalball NSW – https://www.goalball.com.au/home/
Goalball VIC – https://goalball.org.au/
Goalball South Australia – http://www.goalballsouthaustralia.org/
Goalball Western Australia – https://www.goalballwa.com/
Sporting Wheelies (Queensland) – https://www.sportingwheelies.org.au/goalball/