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Athletes demonstrate ‘goalball’ for the blind at M...

Athletes demonstrate ‘goalball’ for the blind at MTSU

With football season in full swing and baseball season headed for the playoffs, a group of dynamic athletes is suiting up to show off their skills at MTSU.

Members of the Tennessee Association of Blind Athletes will demonstrate goalball, a sport played by the blind for decades, from 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 7, at MTSU’s Campus Recreation Center gymnasium.

”I used to be very active,” said MTSU psychology major James Boehm, a member of Tennessee’s goalball team, who lost his sight to injury three years ago.

Visually impaired athletes play goalball, which will be demonstrated at the MTSU Campus Recreation Center gymnasium Saturday, Sept. 7. (Photo courtesy of the Tennessee Association of Blind Athletes)

“I didn’t know if I’d be able to compete again. But I was introduced to goalball two years ago, and it was the first time everyone was on a level playing field.”

Boehm said he ultimately wants to obtain his master’s degree in psychology at MTSU and become a rehabilitation counselor.

Hanz Lorencezen of Austria and Sett Reindle of Germany invented goalball in 1946 to help in the rehabilitation of blind World War II veterans. In 1980, the International Olympic Committee designated it an official sport for the Paralympics.

Two teams of three players each play on a standard-sized gymnasium volleyball court. The players attempt to score by rolling a ball that is about the size of a basketball, but twice the weight. The ball has bells inside it to let the players know where it is.

According to www.paralympics.org.uk, the object of goalball is to “throw the ball into the opposing team’s net, while defenders attempt to block it with their bodies. The indoor court has tactile lines to assist players with their orientation on court and the ball must make contact with certain areas of the court during the game.”

Each game lasts for 20 minutes with halves of 10 minutes each with a three-minute halftime. Since players have varying levels of visual impairment, all players must wear eyeshades and may not adjust them without permission from the referee.

Following the game, representatives of the Tennessee Association of Blind Athletes will hold an informational meeting to explain different opportunities for the blind to be active and play sports.

The TNABA is a nonprofit organization that “provides sports and recreational activities for blind and visually impaired men, women and children of Tennessee,” according to www.tnaba.org.

It also serves as the state chapter of the United States Association of Blind Athletes and is recognized by the U.S. Olympic Committee as a Paralympics sports club.

For more information, contact James Boehm at 901-483-1515 or jimmydagerman80@gmail.com.

—Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)


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