AFTER a year’s hiatus due to Covid-19 pandemic and the movement control order, the Selangor goalball championship returned this year with 70 players taking part.
Goalball, a team sport designed for the visually impaired, was first introduced in the country by Malaysian Association for the Blind (MAB) in 1984.
The game involves participants in teams of three who wear eye shades, throwing a ball with bells embedded into the opponents’ goal.
This year’s competition at Taman Melati Impian, Gombak Setia, Kuala Lumpur, saw eight men’s teams and three women’s teams taking part. The athletes were from Pahang, Penang, Selangor and Kuala Lumpur.
Although goalball requires absolute silence, supporters cheered the players on whenever they scored.
Mohammad Azri Azlan of KL City Boys, the defending champions, said: “I’m so happy to have won because it has been so long since we played in tournaments like this because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We all have day jobs so we could train only once or twice a week. We are elated to have defended our title,” he said.
Mohammad Azri said good hearing was a must in the sport.
“We need to rely on our hearing to determine where the ball is coming from.
“Another challenge is familiarising ourselves with a court quickly as every venue is different,” he added.
For emerging first, KL City Boys won RM3,000, the first runners-up RM2,000, second runners-up RM1,250 and fourth-placed team RM800.
The first-placed women’s team took home RM2,000 while second and third won RM1,250 and RM800 respectively.
Each winning team was also awarded trophies, medals and hampers.
The tournament was organised by MAB with sponsorship from the Selangor human capital develop-ment, sports and youth generation development committee as well as Selangor State Sports Council.
Present were National Sports Council Paralympic director Mohd Sofian Hamzah, MAB president George Thomas, MAB vice-president Datin Fauziah Mohd Ramly as well as MAB Youth & Sports committee chairman Irwan Hanis Ismail.
“The visually impaired enjoy playing games just like other individuals.
“There are many professional athletes who earn a living playing sports and we want the visually impaired to be able to do this too.
“We want to professionalise this game so that they can also receive benefits and allowances, like other athletes,” said George.