Goalball is played by two teams consisting of three players on the field at all times. There is a center and then two people playing on the wing. Each team is allowed to have three substitutes to switch in and out of the game as they see fit. Goalball is an sanctioned event by the International Blind Sports Federation and it is not a coed sport. Men and women do not mix in an official game of goalball. The object of the game is to throw a ball that has bells into it into the opponent’s goal. The amazing thing about goalball is how the players need to use their own ability to judge space and distance to play the game properly. Being unable to see is taken very seriously as all players are fitted with blindfolds that prevent any light from getting through. Players that are partially blind may play but they must wear pads over their eyes and the blindfold to prevent any sight at all. The point of goalball is to enhance the other senses and it does an excellent job at accomplishing this goal.
Like any other sporting event there are penalties in goalball and some of them are very demanding especially considering that none of the players can see what they are doing or where they are going. For example if you are caught touching your eyeshades or blindfolds then that is a penalty. There is also a penalty for illegal coaching which is basically the way that they insure that there are no verbal distractions from the sidelines. Prior to calling the play to begin the referee will ask for quiet and at that point every person not in the field of play must be completely quiet until play is called. If anyone from the sidelines makes any verbal noise that is called illegal coaching is a penalty. Another penalty is very similar to the shot clock in basketball and that is the rule that states that a team must make a throw at the opposing team’s net within 10 seconds of getting the ball. This keeps the play moving and also forces the players to heighten their skills.
Goalball is a wonderful opportunity for the visually handicapped to sharpen their other skills in relation to the world around them. It is amazing how well this game is played by the participants and it is a testament to their determination to live their lives exactly as they want to.