Goalball is the most action filled sport you will ever experience in a silent room. Silent? Yes, that is the beauty of this amazing game that dates back almost 70 years. And Brantford is proud to be the home of one of the most competitive locations in the country.
You may have heard of this sport, but do you really know what it is all about? Here is a brief history of goalball:
The sport was specifically created for vision-impaired athletes. Its origins date back to 1946 as a way to rehabilitate vision impaired World War II veterans. It made its Paralympic debut in 1976. The rules are quite simple but the game is far from it. The first thing you will notice is players wear full eyeshades. This is to allow partially sighted players to compete on an equal footing with blind players. Participants compete in teams of three, and try to throw a ball that has bells embedded in it into the opponent’s goal. Teams alternate throwing or rolling the ball from one end of the playing area to the other, and players remain in the area of their own goal in both defense and attack. Players must use the sound of the bell to judge the position and movement of the ball. Games consist of two 12-minute halves.
The W. Ross Macdonald School for the Blind is a national hotbed for playing goalball, hosting goalball tournaments and producing some amazing goalball athletes. March 7 to 8, 2015, the Ontario Blind Sports Association held the Ontario Goalball Championships at the school which attracted 16 teams. And on March 27 to 29, 2015, the National Junior Goalball Championships will be played there with athletes ranging from ages 14-20. The school has become so well known for hosting and putting on such an exceptional national tournament that in the twelve years the tournament has been running, ten of them have been held right here in Brantford.
The staff and coaches at the W. Ross Macdonald School are dedicated to their students and helping their athletes excel to become the best they can be. Mike Breuls has been coaching provincially for fifteen years and Bob Mannen has been coaching for ten years on the provincial level. Both have also coached at the grass roots level for an additional 10 years. “Coaching is about preparing the athletes both on and off the court but it’s up to the athlete to perform at their best at game time.” – Bob and Mike.
This past September, Jennifer McMillan, teacher and goalball coach, won an award for Good-to-Great Coach (Female) presented by the Coaches Association of Ontario. So not only are there amazing students and athletes coming from the W. Ross Macdonald School, but its teachers and coaches are being recognized for their dedication to their students and passion for the sport. They have been asked to run the upcoming goalball tournament for the 2015 Toronto Pan Am/Parapan Am Games at the Mississauga Sports Centre and are key partners to hosting goalball when the City of Brantford and the County of Brant hold the 2017 Ontario ParaSport Winter Games.
But don’t take my word for it. You have the opportunity to watch the National Junior Goalball Championships March 27 to 29, 2015 and witness a sport unlike any other. Admission is free and everyone is welcome. Just remember to be quet…until they score a goal! The Tournament Capital of Ontario is proud to be a part of these exceptional games and wish the athletes, coaches, organizers and families a great tournament.