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World-first Kiwi sporting solution helps goalball grow

21 August 2017


World-first Kiwi sporting solution helps goalball grow

The world’s first inflatable goalball goal has been created by a Kiwi company, offering a sport previously hampered by cumbersome equipment a new avenue to be easily transported and played in a wider variety of venues.

Former New Zealand Goalball Team representative Charles Tauhore says the creation of inflatable Goalball Packagoals by Packaworld International offers clear safety benefits for players, and has the potential to grow the sport worldwide.

Goalball was the first sport developed for blind and vision-impaired people. It originated as a rehabilitative sport for veterans who lost vision during World War II, and became an official Paralympic sport in 1976. It is played by sighted, low vision and fully blind people.

In goalball, teams of three players try to roll or bounce a 1.25kg ball with bells inside across an indoor court and into a goal at the other end. Opposing players try to block the ball from entering their net by diving. Blind and sighted players all wear blackout visors to create a level playing field, relying entirely on the sound of the bells to identify where the ball is.

Mr Tauhore is now Club Captain at the Auckland Blind Sports and Recreation Club, where Auckland’s goalball players have put the new goal through months of rigorous testing.

“The Packagoal has really changed our thinking on the goals. We have always known them as big, heavy equipment. With the metal goals we used, it wasn’t possible to transport them with the volunteer numbers we have at hand. With the Packagoal, it’s easy.”

Goals are essential for the sport, but at nine metres wide, they are also costly and difficult to set up, transport and store, creating difficulties in presenting the sport to a wider audience.

Mr Tauhore says the Goalball Packagoal can be set up in five to ten minutes by an individual, as opposed to metal goals, which take around 30 minutes for an experienced team of volunteers to set up and aren’t practical for demonstrations or interclub play.

Once a game is finished, the goals can be deflated and packed away for easy storage and transportation. This means one set of goalball goals could be used to offer the sport across a much wider geographic region, opening the game up to be played by more people, he says.

“Players comment that it’s solid and has held up really well. I’m hoping this equipment can be used worldwide, and I think a lot of people will share my view. We are really happy this has come about.”

Goalball in a nutshell
Goalball is a Paralympic sport. While participation at the Paralympics is limited to 12 national teams in the men’s division and 10 teams in the women’s division, participation numbers are growing and it is played by people from around the world.

Mr Tauhore says the sport of goalball is immensely valuable for blind and low vision athletes because it provides positive opportunities for people to play together on a level playing field.

He says although the sport can be physically demanding, it provides a great way to bring the blind and low vision sports community together with other athletes.

“When you strip goalball back to its core, you get camaraderie. It’s really positive for the teammates and their families. The sport may look quite demanding, but it helps people be active, to achieve and be part of a group. And everyone can belong.”

ENDS


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