CARLI-ANN FURNO

The UP-Tuks Student Sports Committee (SSC) have recently invested in a sport for blind and visually impaired students. Goalball was introduced in the second semester of last year, and students were anticipating the third goalball tournament which was held on 25 July.

Twelve UP students will be participating in the upcoming tournament, consisting of both a female and male team. Goalball practise began on Monday 20 July. Mashooda Sedibeng, captain of the female team, and Thabang Manamela, captain of the male team, are approaching the goalball season focusing on “motivation as being the key to success and victory”. SSC representative Dimpho Vilankulu is excited about the tournament ahead and says, “This sport inspires me. It is a means to accommodate students who are said to have ‘disabilities’. This sport engages them in the university’s student life.”

The sport was recognised by the world for the first time at the Paralympic Games in 1976 in Toronto, Canada. The object of the game is to roll a ball across the backline of the opposing team. Bells inside the ball help to orientate the players, who have the objective of blocking the ball with their bodies. Two teams consisting of three players each stand on opposite sides of the court and listen for the oncoming ball, moving toward the sound. A thin rope or tape on the floor keeps the players aware of their position within the court. The game consists of two halves of 12 minutes each, and there are usually several games in a tournament.

Goalball players are required to wear blindfolds at all times, as some players are partially visually impaired, as well as safety gear that protects their bodies from injuries in their attempts to defend the backline. Complete silence is required in the venue when the game begins, as players depend on senses other than sight to play the game.

Photo: Carli-Ann Furno

Video: Thabang Letageng

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