Goalball Sport Icon

A team sport devised specifically for blind athletes, it is one of only a small handful of sports which features only in the Paralympics and does not have an Olympic equivalent. However, some comparisons can be made to handball or football.

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The Basics

  • Participants compete in teams of three. The aim of the game is to try to throw a ball, embedded with bells, into the opponents' goal. Players must use the sound of the bells to judge where the ball is and what movement is required from them.
  • Teams will take it turn to roll the ball from the end of the court they are defending to the end they are attacking, and attempt to score. This continues for two 12-minute halves, with the team with the most goals at the end declared the winner.
  • Eye-shades allow partially sighted players to compete on an equal footing with blind players. Defending teams will often lie down on the court to try and prevent the attacking team from scoring, as this allows them to block the largest possible area.


  • Goalball was originally devised in 1946 as a sport for assisting the rehabilitation of visually impaired World War II veterans. Its popularity quickly grew and just 30 years later, at the Summer Paralympics in Toronto, it was included as a sport for the first time.
  • The sport has been a fixture at the Games ever since. In the men’s event, medals have been won by 16 nations in total, with only Finland and Denmark winning gold more than once. The United States have the most medals, with five, but have only won once.
  • A women’s tournament has been held since 1984 with the USA and Canada winning twice each. Denmark, Finland, Japan, Germany, and most recently Turkey, have been the others to taste success at the Games.

Famous Competitors

  • Asya Miller and Jen Armbruster - this married couple have both been members of the American women's goalball team at the Paralympics. Miller has also competed in various throwing events, like discus, besides goalball. Armbruster began losing her vision at 14 but continued to play in her school's basketball team. They have both won a gold medal.
  • Lisa Banta – won gold for the USA at the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing, having taken silver at the two previous Games, one in Discus and one in Goalball. Her success also saw her invited to take part in the torch relay for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. She has suffered from  nystagmus and cone dystrophy.

National Governing Body

Goalball UK – please click here for more information.


  • Intra-School Primary: Competition Card
  • Intra-School Primary: Challenge Card
  • Intra-School Secondary 
  • Local Inter-School

In order for a competition to be considered part of a School Games provision, it must follow a School Games format. All School Games registered users have access to our sport formats and can access the formats for this sport by clicking the button below. Alternatively, you can download the full Goalball format pack by clicking here

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“Goalball at Oakwood Academy”
Leigh Cooper from Oakwood Academy discusses the impact of goalball at the school. Go there now

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