HOW IT ALL BEGAN
First introduced in 1946, goalball was created to assist in the rehabilitation of veterans with a visual impairment. Its popularity has only grown since then: the sport is currently practised in 85 countries. It debuted in the Paralympic Games at Toronto 1976, as a demonstration sport. Since then, goalball has been ever present at all editions of the Games.
ABOUT THE COMPETITION
As in the case of football 5-a-side, the goalball ball has bells in it. Teams consist of three starting line-up players and three on the bench, all blindfolded. The game is divided into two 12-minute halves, and the winner is the team that scores the most goals. Throws must be low or bouncing and must always touch certain areas of the pitch. Players are both attackers and defenders. The width of the goal is the same as the width of the pitch (9m x 1.30m). Therefore, players position themselves in the three areas they must defend: left wing, right wing and central or pivot position. There is no contact between adversaries, which makes the game safer for the players. Attacking requires strength, since the ball weighs 1.25kg. The 11 referees are key to the dynamics of the game, but the two main referees are responsible for conducting the match, using different whistle blows and verbal commands. The four officials working near the goal posts are responsible for replacing balls, guiding replaced athletes and for assisting in pitch maintenance. The remaining ones work on the table, taking care of score sheets and time.
DID YOU KNOW?
Brazil won the men’s World Championship in 2014, and two of its players were the top-scorers of the tournament: Leomon Silva (51 goals) and Romário Marques (30).