IFAISTIADA Goalball Tournament: how to be impressed by blind athletes


1.5 week ago, from the 23rd to the 25th of November, the IFAISTIADA goalball tournament took place in the Ε.Α.Κ. Σταυρούπολης gymnasium. The event was organised by the IFAISTOS blind sports club and gathered eight teams from seven different countries. Sweat, concentration, respect, humility… the combination of everything built a good competition.

While the weather was cloudy and cold during these three days, the atmosphere inside the gymnasium reflected something different.

An impression of the competition

In the corners, behind the goals, some blind athletes are warming up to get ready for the match. We can hear the sound of the ball (which makes sound in order to be recognized by the blind athletes) moving from one side to another. On the ground, they are repeating some movements to stop and block the ball with their bodies.

In the field, organisers and volunteers are trying to fix all the bands on the floor. They are really important to define the limits and especially useful for players as a guide during the game.

A player trying to score in the opposite camp  ©IFAISTOS website

The teams face each other in an international tournament with two pools. Romania, Kosovo, GC Moscow, IFAISTOS for the first pool. And Greece (HELLAS), Netherlands, Zora Praha, Enasr Alger for the second. The first two days are the qualification phases and the last day is the final ranking.

The competition is really hard and some teams are more prepared than others (because of budget or because the sport is unknown in their country). They all have a coach and substitute players.

What is Goalball?

Goalball was invented in 1946 by the Austrian Hanz Lorenzen and the German Sepp Reindle. They wanted to help veterans who became blind during the Second World War. The sport was shown as demonstration in the Toronto Olympic Games in 1976. Finally, it was recognized as an official sport in the Seoul Paralympic Games in 1988.

The rules and the way to play are simple. Goalball is practiced by visually impaired people and they all wear masks to have equality. The aim is to score more goals than the other team by launching and rolling the ball into the opposite camp. Just one player is allowed to throw the ball and the players of the other team have to defend the goal with their bodies. Two teams of three players face each other with three substitutions.  

A Russian player wearing the mask during the competition  ©IFAISTOS website

The goals are really large and they cover almost the edge of the field. Each game is divided into two halves of twelve minutes with three minutes break between them. The audience must be quiet in order to let the players concentrate.

After a strong competition, the final took place on Sunday afternoon between Greece (HELLAS) and GC Moscow. Finally, the Greece team won in the extra-time by scoring the golden goal. Thanks to the work of all the volunteers and the IFAISTOS team, the athletes felt totally comfortable. So, if you want to join the next tournament, it will be next year again in Thessaloniki.  

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