A goalball player in action. (Photo: Dani Louise/ dlrphoto.ca)

GUILDFORD

Surrey to host Goalball Grand Slam tournament for blind and visually impaired athletes

In this team sport, players track the ball, which makes a bell sound, though noise and vibration

Dozens of athletes from Canada, the U.S. and Israel will be in Surrey this weekend for the 2019 Vancouver Goalball Grand Slam, at Guildford Recreation Centre from Friday to Sunday (March 8-10).

Goalball is a Paralympic team sport designed for athletes who are blind or visually impaired.

“Using their hands only, the goal is for players to throw the ball into the opposing team’s net across a volleyball-sized court,” a City of Surrey release explained Monday (March 4).

“Players track the ball, which makes a bell sound, though noise and vibration.”

The three-day event in Guildford, presented by YVR, is for athletes preparing for Paralympic qualifiers.

In addition to the 11-team tournament, an hour-long “Goalball Try-It” session will be held on Saturday, March 9, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., for those who would like to play the sport. Players will be given eyeshades and are encouraged to wear a long-sleeved shirt and pants.

More event details, including game schedules and team rosters, are posted on Vancouver Goalball Club’s website (vgclub.ca), and also at surrey.ca/culture-recreation/28799.aspx. For spectators, admission is by donation at the rec centre, 15105 105th Ave.

“Goalball is the toughest sport you’ve never heard about,” event sponsor Vancouver Airport says in a Youtube post with video showing how the sport is played.

“We are extremely proud to be welcoming the 2019 Vancouver Goalball Grand Slam to Surrey,” Tara Roberts, manager of support services and accessibility for the City of Surrey, said in a release.

“Not only are we committed to hosting world-class sporting events like these, but it supports our vision to become British Columbia’s most accessible municipality,” she added. “We have been offering inclusive adapted recreation and sports programs for the past 20 years and will continue to support events like goalball, to offer full participation in sport for people of all abilities.”

The tournament has been gaining momentum over the last three years, and a women’s division has been added for the first time at this year’s tournament, noted Lisa Odland, tournament co-ordinator for Vancouver Goalball Club.

“The sport of goalball is growing at a steady pace worldwide, and Vancouver Goalball Club is dedicated to offering a high-level competition right here in the Lower Mainland,” Odland stated.

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