Thirteen Canadian and American teams are competing for the title of the best goalball team of the year.
Goalball was invented after the Second World War as a means of rehabilitation for people who became blind during the war. It entered the Paralympic Games in 1976 in Toronto.
“It was invented for visually impaired or blind athletes,” said Nathalie Chartrand, executive director of the Quebec Blind Sports Association. “It’s not like running, tandem cycling or skiing, where we need a volunteer athlete to help us do the sport.
“In goalball, you only need a ball and teammates and you can play. Everything is designed so we can play our sport by ourselves.”
Played in a gymnasium, the game’s objective is to roll or bounce the ball into the opponent’s net while the other team tries to block the ball with their bodies. The ball contains a little bell to help players determine where it is on the court.
The sport is also a unique experience for spectators because they need to be absolutely silent to help the athletes focus and concentrate.
“Goalball is pretty special because there are three opponents on each side. But we need four goal judges, one timer, one marker, two ten-second timers and two referees, so there are 10 officials,” said Chartrand.
During the tournament’s 19th edition, men’s teams from British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Nova Scotia, California, New Jersey, Delaware, D.C. and Quebec will compete.
Women’s teams from Alberta, Ontario, British Columbia and Nova Scotia will also be playing.