A goalball player in action. Photo: Sport Singapore
Players pirouette gracefully before hurtling dense bell-filled balls toward the other team's goal. Using only their heightened sense of hearing and touch, the defending team dives left and right agilely to deflect the goal-bound spheres. This is goalball and it is so much more than just a para sport.
“This is “Goalball For All”,” Joan Hung tells me after her spirited demonstration game with the Singapore women’s wrestling team. The Team Singapore goalball player is visually impaired but don’t let her disability fool you as she spins and dives with catlike grace around the court.
“We would really like to spread goalball not just to the visually impaired but also to the sighted community because it’s a really interesting game and once everyone puts on their eye shades, everyone is on a level playing field,” said the programmer at Athlete Development.
A goalball player defending her goal. Photo: Sport Singapore
“At the inclusive sports festival, we were here for two days. We do a demo game first to show people that it’s not just about rolling and blocking. If they are interested, they can join us at our open court sessions. To find out more details, they can go to goalballsingapore on Facebook or goalballsg on Instagram,” she continued.
One of the sighted participants in the demonstration game was Team Singapore wrestler Alvina Lim.
“It (goalball) takes a lot of getting use to as we have to use our sense of touch and hearing. Initially, when we had the eye shades on, I was very terrified! Luckily for us, the goalball team has been very supportive and encouraging and they helped us a lot,” said the wrestler who also practices jiujitsu and boxing.
When asked what it was like training with elite para-athletes, Lim said: “I think that they are really like superheroes. When we were blindfolded and didn’t know our bearings, they could tell us where we were. They would say “you’re in the net” or “take three steps forward”, how could they even know when we didn’t make a sound? They could actually feel and sense our location!”