On Saturday, i took part in a Goalball session organised by
Disability sport Northern Ireland.
Goalball is a sport where 3 people play. They are all blindfolded and you have to try and stop the ball from going in to the other persons goal. It can be very fast paced and gets very competitive.
I had played Goalball years ago as a taster session in Ballymena, but it was only held once and there wasn’t much interest. I was delighted when i got an email from Disability sports telling me that it was on and signed up straight away for it. I mentioned the session at one of our branch meetings for the fundraising branch, and a couple of people were interested, so we decided to all go along together to see what it was like.
So on Saturday morning, all 3 of us plus two dogs piled on to the 8 o’clock train from Ballymena as the session was in Belfast. It didn’t start until 2 o’clock, so we had a chance to grab a cuppa before we got the bus to the community centre where the session was to be held.
When we arrived, we met the two ladies from Disability Sport, plus two teachers who taught special needs children, plus two people who had came over from England. One was a coach from
Who are the governing body for Goalball across the UK, and a guy who had played as a professional. There were two other ladies there too. We were also shown a place where the dogs could spend if they wished too. We were then given brand new knee pads and elbow pads which had been purchased by Disability Sports. They felt very odd on. I had to get smaller elbow pads though as the first ones were too big for my arms and they were worried they’d keep sliding about. We then found a place to tie the dogs before making a circle in the middle of the floor. We had to pass the ball to each other saying our names first and getting faster and faster, before having to say the persons name who was beside us, and stopping the ball from going in between our legs. We had to make our legs wide like a gate, while someone roled the ball along the floor. A person had to then run round the outside of the circle before the ball got around the circle.
It was then on to some propper goalball. We had to get down on our knees for this one. There was string taped across the floor to measure outa 9 metre courte and to orientate the players as to where there were on the courte. Each goalball courte is 9 metres. The people with no vision were then given blind folds so that everyone was on a level playing field. We then had to practice getting in to what was known as the defensive possition. This is where you lie on the floor to create a barier and to stop the ball from going in to the other teams goal by taking up as much of the floor as you possibly could. We were using a softer ball which was like a bowling ball with holes in it. It still rattled like a normal ball though. We also learnt how to shoot the ball from standing too. Each team played two games altogether.
The session was fantastic craic. When it was being explained, it sounded more complicated than it was meant to be, but once you got in to playing, you just had to go with it. It was certainly quite warm by the time we had finished. I would like to thank Goalball UK for coaching us, and i hope it takes off over here. The dogs were certainly very excited about seeing the ball, but i’m sure once they got used to it, they would have been grand.
I really did enjoy it and can’t wait to play some more. Hopefully it won’t be long until the next session. I don’t know if i would want to play competitively, but i really did enjoy it.