Written by Phil Cerroni
By Phil Cerroni
For those who enjoy unique sports, goalball is definitely something to look into. Developed in 1946 to assist recovering World War II veterans, the sport is now played by children and adults with ocular disabilities. Like murderball and other sports developed for the physically disabled, goalball is not only an invigorating means of therapy, but an enjoyable spectator sport as well.
One unique aspect of the sport is the ball. It is a medicine ball with a bell inside that tinkles as the ball rolls down the court. The principles behind the game are simple: two teams of three set up on opposite sides of a basketball court and don blindfolds in order to even the playing field as some players may have limited vision. During play, one team rolls the ball and the other team attempts to stop it from crossing their goal line by diving or laying down in front of it, all the while listening for the bell.
A goalball tournament was held on Oct. 19 as part of the 14th Annual Sports Extravaganza for Students with Visual Impairment at Nimitz High School Oct. 19-20 hosted by the Lions Club and Region 10 Education Service Center. The Sports Extravaganza offers a variety of events including track and field and archery all geared towards children who cannot see.
“This gave us an opportunity to work with youths in relation to sports that they wouldn't necessarily be able to participate in without something like the Sports Extravaganza,” said Lions member, Patricia Gale, explaining that the Lions have been co-sponsoring the Sports Extravaganza for over a decade.
Irving-based Titans beat out the Wildcats from Allen, TX to place first in the goalball tournament.
Although Irving's team had beaten them earlier in the day, the Titans said the former reigning champions, TSVBI (Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired), were their greatest worry coming into the tournament.
“It's always tough going against them because they're at the blind school,” said Chance Lindsey, one of the Titan Coaches. “They have a big gym and everything else where they can get together right there on campus.”
“We feared them whenever we came here,” confirmed his son, Bryan, one of the players on the team.
Although the players and coaches are very serious about goalball, Coach Lindsey explained that it still holds a relatively unofficial status.
“Christy Householter, who organized this whole event has weekly practices; we're fortunate to have her as her coach,” Coach Lindsey said. “We have weekly get togethers, and we're usually at a school or one of the rec centers. We put down the tape and pull it up after every practice. That's a lot of work for us, but these guys are doing the real work.”
Because goalball has almost a pickup status, it can be difficult to hold down a full roster, and the Titans were represented at the tournament by only three players.
“Usually we try to get four or five or even six people, because these guys had to play the whole time there was no substitution at all,” said Coach Lindsey.
Because none of the players can see the ball, goalball has an element of suspense that many other sports lack. There is something exhilarating about waiting in hushed silence to see whether or not the players will successfully locate and stop the tolling ball.
Although it will never be televised nationally and will probably never have a movie made about it like the more auspicious murderball (movie by the same title), goalball is an amazing opportunity for disabled athletes, and it is inspiring to see to that Irving is leading the charge to nurture all the talents in our community. Just be sure that if you go to watch goalball to stay very quiet or else the players cannot hear the ball!