Goalball was devised in 1946 as a rehabilitation
activity for visually impaired World War II veterans.
It was introduced to the world at the 1976 Paralympic Games in Toronto and is played
by both men’s and women’s teams. Goalball is exclusively for athletes with
a visual impairment. To be eligible, athletes have less than 10
per cent vision remaining or a visual field restricted to 20 degrees..
Participants wear blackout masks whilst on court that cannot be touched unless permitted by the referee. The court is 18 metres by nine metres, each team’s goal stretches the entire width and is 1.9 metres high. The hard rubber ball has a diameter of 25
centimetres Two bells inside the ball help orientate the
players of the direction of the on-coming ball;
string placed under court lines also give the players orientation.
While play is in progress, complete silence is required in the venue to allow the players
to react to the ball. The object of the game is to roll the ball
into the opposite goal while opposing players try to block the ball with their bodies.
There are 3 players per team on court at any time with a maximum of 3 substitutes.
Each match consists of two 12-minute halves separated by a 3-minute break.
Teams have ten seconds from first defensive contact to get the ball across the centre
court line. The game is won by scoring the most goals in the allotted time or if one team leads the other by 10 goals. A tournament begins with a round robin phase. The top four teams from each group will progress through quarter-final and semi-final elimination matches as they strive to reach the final. Goalball is unique. The hush of the crowd and the high degree of skill, tactics and split second player reactions create a spectacular sport.