Goalball is the only team sport created specifically for the visually impaired. Designed by rehabilitation specialists after World War II, the sport has evolved into the premier team sport for people who are blind and visually impaired. It is currently played in nearly a hundred countries around the world and is a featured part of the Parlaympic games. Unlike other team sports played in the Paralympics, goalball is not adapted from any other sport; it is a game totally unique unto itself. Because of this, the sport of goalball offers a high level of inclusion across the entire spectrum of disability classifications.
- Object: to throw the ball down the court and into the opposing team’s goal (or across their goal line if no netted goals are present)
- Number of Players: Six players total, three on each team
- The Court: Volleyball-sized court that is modified with tactile markings (tape with string underneath).
Goalball is an adapted sport that can accommodate more than just athletes who are blind or visually impaired. Because of the requirement that all participants wear eye shades, goalball is a sport that can include many athletes while maintaining a level playing field. Sighted and visually impaired athletes can both experience the game on an equal footing. Other disabilities can participate as well with appropriate accommodations.
At the international level, all athletes who compete in goalball must be classified as legally blind. However, these requirements do not exist at the domestic level. Sighted players are welcomed at many local and regional tournaments, and The United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) allows athletes who do not qualify as legally blind to compete in their sanctioned competitions. As blindness is a low instance disability, it is highly recommended that schools and recreational programs include sighted and other athletes to promote competition and inclusion.
In a recreational setting, further modifications to the sport can be implemented to allow even those with physical disabilities to participate. For example: If an amputee athlete wants to participate, all players can be instructed to throw from their knees.
Additional Online Resources