Eliza – one of our physio’s at our O’Connor clinic has worked with the Australian Women’s Goalball squad for almost 2 years now and was fortunate enough to travel with them to the London Paralympic Games last year! The goalball squad were back in the ACT last weekend and here is a little overview of Eliza’s experience with the girls!
‘What is Goalball? Goalball is a Paralympic sport played by blind and vision-impaired athletes. It is played on a volley-ball court (Australia has no dedicated Goalball venues), with nets that span each 9m end. The three players on the court wear blacked-out ski goggles and orientate themselves around the court via sound and braile-esque touch (string is taped to the floor). The aim is to hurl a 1.25kg ball (it looks and feels like a heavy blue basketball) across the court, through the opposing team into the net at the other end. The ball contains 3 bells, so athletes can track the sound as it moves across the court. As an interesting side fact: our team has two of the top 15 throwers in the world (Meica and Nic). They regularly clock between 35-40km/hr for their throws. The male squad have been recorded as throwing ball up to 60km/hr. A link to the Australian Paralympic Committee’s site on Goalball is here: http://www.paralympic.org.au/sports/goalball
Working with these athletes is incredibly rewarding. Aside from the usual hands-on management of Goalball-related injuries (shoulder impingement, wrist pain, hip impingement, neck and thoracic tightness and neural tension to name a few), time is dedicated towards athlete education. Many of these athletes have had minimal access to elite-level sport and assisting in their learning of what it takes to develop athletically and to cope with the demands of this (whilst juggling school, work and personal lives) in the context of having a ‘disability’ and what that means (or does not mean) to them is a highlight.
Over the weekend (Thurs – Sun) there was an invitational camp to select the athletes that will form the Paralympic Preparation Program (PPP) squad. It is from this squad that athletes will be selected to compete at international tournaments such as Regional Qualifiers, World Cup events. Five of the six from the London squad attended (the sixth is currently recovering from an ankle reconstruction) and an additional six juniors were invited. The camp schedule consisted of a mix of fitness testing, throw-technique work with a throwing coach and strategic on-court tactical training. An intensive, exhausting weekend for all!
In other exciting news, a recent announcement (late last week) has been that Qualifiers for Worlds (June/July 2014) will not be in Australia as planned, but in China in November this year.’
Thanks Eliza for this recap! Here are a few photos of the goalball girls from last year!