So, you want to know more about Goalball?
Goalball is a team sport, and it was invented in 1946 to help rehabilitate veterans of World War II who had lost their sight. Hans Lorenzen of Austria and Sepp Reindle of Germany are credited with inventing the game. Unlike other blind sports, like blind football or blind tennis, Goalball is a sport designed specifically for people with a visual impairment, and not adapted like other sports.
Goalball is also very inclusive – you don’t have to be blind, or vision impaired to play (at the amateur levels anyway) – because players must wear an opaque eyeshade at all times. However, all international athletes must be visually impaired and undergo a sight classification.
How many players in a Goalball team?
Goalball teams are made up of six players, with three members playing on court at any one time. There are three positions in goalball: centre, right wing, and left wing.
How do you play Goalball?
The object of the game is to throw a ball past the opponents and into their 9×1.3 metre goal to score goals. A competition goalball weighs 1.25kg and is around 24cm in diameter and has bells in so players can hear the ball. Competitors can score by bouncing, curving or spinning shots around their opponents. Players in the opposing goal use their bodies to defend their net and then throw the ball back to try and score against their opponents.
When defending, when a member of the defensive team touches the ball, they have just ten seconds to throw the ball back, or they will be penalised. Penalised players would normally face a penalty shot from the opposition – and the penalised player must defend their nine-metre goal alone. Penalties can also be awarded for high balls, excessive noise, long balls and for touching one’s eyeshades.
Goalball is played in silence so that players can hear the three metal bells enclosed in the goalball. The goalball is made from rubber and has eight holes so that players can hear the bells. Only the players and two referees may talk or make any noise during the play. Everyone else – officials, coaches, teammates and spectators – must stay quiet so that the players can hear and locate the ball.
The team with the most goals at the end of the game wins.
Where is it played?
Goalball is played inside, and goalball courts are the same size as a volleyball court – 18 metres long and 9 metres wide. There are goals at each end which are 1.3 metres tall and cover the whole 9 metre goal line. String is taped over to create markings on the goalball court which means that players can feel the lines and orientate themselves.
How long is a game?
Games consist of twelve-minute halves, with a three-minute half time. Where there is a tie, golden goal overtime occurs, with two three-minute periods (and a three-minute overtime half). If no team breaks the deadlock, extra throws 1 v 1 and then sudden death extra throws will decide the winner.
Goalball is quite unusual in that there are more officials than players on the court!
A goalball match will have:
- Two referees, one of each referee remains along the sideline at one half of the court.
- Four goal judges, who are positioned to the side of each goal edge.
- Two ten-second timers who keep track of time between when a defending player makes contact with the ball and when the ball is thrown.
- Game timer and a back-up timer. The time counts down in goalball, like in a basketball match, and the back up timer is there in case the game timer’s watch fails.
Goalball and the Paralympic Games
Goalball has featured in every Paralympic Games since 1976, although we had to wait until the 1984 New York Paralympic Games for women’s goalball! Team GB hasn’t yet managed a medal at the Paralympic Games (yet!) (Brazil won men’s gold and Turkey the women’s gold in Tokyo 2020) but it’s a growing sport and there are opportunities to get involved in London.
Opportunities for potential Goalball players!
Croysutt Warriors Goalball Club
Venue: Harris Invictus Academy, 88 London Road, CR0 2TB
Day and Time: Every Monday, 6.15pm – 9pm
Cost: First session free, then £3 a session
Contact: email@example.com or call 07889648925
London Elephants Goalball Club
Venue: The Castle Leisure Centre, SE1 6FG
Day and Time: Every other Tuesday, 6pm – 8pm
Cost: First session free, then £3 a session
Contact: Londongoalball@outlook.com or call 07894832820
Metro Blind Sport
Day and Time: Monthly Sundays, 2pm – 4pm
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07956292046
Equipment is provided at all the sessions.
Station meet and greet is available for all the sessions by prior arrangement.
We would advise to always phone or email the event contacts, to confirm that there have been no changes to the event time or date to avoid possible disappointment.
Goalball Junior Day – Croydon
Venue: Monkshill Sports Centre, Farnborough Avenue, Selsdon, CR2 8HD
Date: Tuesday 26th October – Croydon
Time: 10am arrival, finish 3pm
Cost: Free to attend, booking required
Parents, carers, and guardians are welcome to stay or drop the young person off however if so, the young person must be independent.
Goalball not the sport for you? Find alternative sport and leisure opportunities in London here.