Subiaco: Goalball championships a chance for blind and vision impaired players to shine

Goalball players (l-r) Darren Coyle (15), Alan Leahy (19) and Harry Sinclair (16) train before the championships.
Goalball players (l-r) Darren Coyle (15), Alan Leahy (19) and Harry Sinclair (16) train before the championships.

HEARING is believing the ball is in the right place for blind and vision impaired players competing at the four-day Australian National Goalball Championships in Subiaco next Thursday.

The game was invented in 1946 to rehabilitate blind World War II soldiers, but is now also played by the competing public.

Players attempt to block a ball that has bells inside so its location can be determined, while tape and string that can be touched indicate the playing court’s boundaries.

“You didn’t think your hearing was as acute until you played, and you have to rely on it as every player also wears a blindfold,” Victoria Park and highly vision impaired goalball player Alan Leahy (19) said.

However, no chances are taken with blindfolds mandatory and the audience required to be quiet.

“Being silent is probably more annoying to them as they can’t speak,” Mr Leahy said.

Goalball made its Paralympic debut in 1976, and more than 100 athletes will compete at the championships at the school this year.

Mr Leahy started playing goalball four months ago because of friends’ participation.

“It’s like any sport. Fun,” he said.

Goalball WA needs volunteers for the championships, at which duties will included serving breakfasts, goal judging and guiding competitors through the school.

Call 0403 758 223 to volunteer.