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Portable goal helps goalball take to the road

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

A unique inflatable goal is travelling New Zealand with Blind Sport New Zealand as part of the ACC Paralympics New Zealand Open Days, showcasing the exciting blind sport of goalball in a way that wasn’t possible before.

Goalball is a sport in which teams of three players try to roll or bounce a 1.25kg ball with bells inside across an indoor court and into a nine-metre-wide goal. Opposing players try to block the ball from entering their net by diving. Blind and sighted players all wear blackout visors to create an equal playing field, relying on sound to identify where the ball is.

Blind Sport New Zealand National Manager Dan Shepherd said while goalball is a major Paralympic sport, growing participation has been tricky due to bulky equipment - an issue resolved with the advent of inflatable, portable Goalball Packagoals from New Zealand company Packaworld International.

"Taking a sport with a nine-metre-wide goal around the country has been a real challenge in the past. We have been collaborating closely with our partner Packaworld International to create the inflatable goal, which goes a long way to resolving these issues."

The goalball area at the recent Open Day in Auckland included an interactive demonstration from former New Zealand goalball representative Charles Tauhore. Paralympics New Zealand Para Sport Community Manager Kieran Wall said the demonstration provided a great opportunity for people to learn about goalball.

"Goalball has a unique strength as it enables people with vision impairments to play independently. We have been working with Blind Sport New Zealand to build participation and create a real grassroots movement for people with vision impairments."

Packaworld CEO Peter Roberts said goalball was "a rising star" with a growing following worldwide, and Goalball Packagoals could assist in increasing participation.

"Sports like goalball provide a level playing field, helping people to get active and connect. This forms healthier, more supportive communities and I’m delighted we’ve found a solution that can bring goalball to more people around the world."

Mr Roberts said while goalball was relatively new to most New Zealanders, participation in the UK had grown by 425 per cent since the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Goalball has even drawn attention from the All Blacks, with Damian McKenzie, Waisake Naholo, Ardie Savea, Lima Sopoaga and Codie Taylor playing a demonstration in November 2017.

The next ACC Paralympics New Zealand Open Days are planned for 25 March in Tauranga and 7 April in Dunedin. They will feature over 20 different exhibitors showcasing Para sports and providing information on local Para sport opportunities.

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