player with blackout mask blocks ball from net
Tyler Merren USA makes a save during the Men’s Gold Medal Match, Rio 2016. Photo: Anthony Edgar

What is Goalball?

Goalball is a team sport designed specifically for athletes with a vision impairment. Participants compete in teams of three, and try to roll a ball that has bells embedded inside of it into the opponents’ goal. The ball is rolled by hand and never kicked. It is the most popular team sport for the blind and visually impaired and is played competitively in 112 countries.

When did Goalball originate?

Austrian Hans Lorenzen and German Sepp Reindle invented Goalball in 1946. They wanted to rehabilitate veterans who returned from World War II with a visual impairment.

Goalball was introduced to the world at the Toronto 1976 Paralympic Games. It has been played at every Paralympic Games since.

How do you play Goalball?

Para athletes use blackout masks to ensure equality on the playing indoor court, as the severity of Para athletes’ impairment may differ. The sport consists of three players in each team and two goals. Each game involves two halves of 12 minutes each. The object of the game is for players to throw the ball so that it rolls towards/into the opposite goal, while opposing players try to block the ball with their bodies to avoid conceding a goal. The rubber ball has a bell inside it to orient players, indicating the direction of the on-coming ball. Whilst play is in progress, complete silence is required in the venue to allow the players to instantly react to the ball.

Find out more about Goalball

For more information on Goalball visit Blind Sport NZ.

Goalball in New Zealand

No New Zealand team has competed in Goalball at the Paralympic Games to date.

Goalball is currently played in some regions in New Zealand. Follow the Goalball NZ Facebook page to stay connected to Goalball in New Zealand.

Register with Paralympics New Zealand now and we will help you to find a Para sport for you in your local area!