2004 First International Test

31 May 2004

Goalball New Zealand In First International Test

On June 13 the New Zealand Men's and Women's Goalball teams will be competing against Australia in their first international competition. The test matches will be part of the Australian National State Championships that will be held this year in Surfers Paradise. New Zealand teams will be competing within the competition as a warm up to the test matches.

Goalball is a Paralympic sport played by blind, visually impaired and sighted players in the only truly hand-ear based game, where players attempt to score goals at either end of a court the size of a volleyball court. The unique nature of the game is that all players play blindfolded, using sound and touch to orientate themselves on court, stop the ball from entering the court width goal, and then returning to the opposition at speeds up to 70 Km/h.

"We attended the Australian champs last year where we gained a lot of experience and decided at the end of that to return again and this time to take on the best of Australia" said Troy Ramsay coach of the New Zealand men's team. "We really believe that we have come a long way in the last 12 months and should be able to give them a real run for their money. Our aim is to try and make it to the Paralympics in 2008, and this is our first major step toward this."

The game itself is played in over 100 countries worldwide and is very popular in Europe and the Americas.

The exciting growth in the game in the last 18 months has lead to a strong women's team that will be travelling overseas for the first time. "We are very lucky to have Susan Clark as our coach" said Petronella Spicer, captain of the women's team. "She has had experience in coaching the English women and this has allowed us to fast track our progress. We are really looking forward to taking on the Australian women and participating in an all women competition, something we find difficult here in New Zealand."

Goalball is played in the major centres throughout New Zealand with North, South and National championships held on an annual basis. "We have seen a massive growth in the game in New Zealand in the last 12 months and thanks to our sponsor Pulse Data International we have the chance to blood many players and coaches that should allow us to achieve our longer term goal of attending the Paralympics" said Paul Barclay, President of Goalball New Zealand. "We passionately believe that this game is good for all blind and visually impaired that allows true competition amongst all types of players in an equal and challenging way".