Parapan Am Games: Goalball

During the last weekend of TO2015, I attended the women’s wheelchair basketball medal games on August 14, and the men’s goalball medal games on August 15. Last year, the 2014 Women’s World Wheelchair Basketball Championship was held in Toronto where the Canadian women’s team won gold. It was an exciting tournament and one that should have garnered more attention.

At the Parapan Am Games, the women’s wheelchair basketball gold medal match came down to USA and Canada. During the last quarter of play, USA was stronger both defensively and offensively, and went on to win the match dominantly. It was a disappointing finish for Canada in front of a home crowd, but for many para-sports, USA and Canada tend to oscillate between gold and silver.

Goalball, on the other hand, has a dynamic that is different from any other. It’s a game for the blind, played by two teams, three players per team, for two 20-minute halves. All players defend their net, which spans the width of the field; and all players shoot the ball on instinct and with strategy. Here’s a great video from Global National about what goalball is:

Pretty cool huh? Goalball, as described in the video, is a sport all on its own – it is not based off of any other and is one of the only sports for the visually impaired. I took pictures*** of the goalball bronze (Canada vs Argentina) and gold (Brazil vs USA) medal matches at the Parapan Am Games, and tried to capture the intimacy of the space with spectators on both ends and one side of the field. It was quite the experience, and one where silence from the audience is preferred, this allows players to hear the ball as it hurdles towards them.

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***All pictures © Cristina Murano

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