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Photo snapshot: goalball in Zagreb

A Croatian team member throws a ball during an international goalball tournament in Zagreb - Bjoern Steinz | Panos Pictures

Goalball is a team sport designed for blind and visually impaired athletes and is played in silence: the only way for the blindfolded athletes to work out where the ball is is by the tinkling sound it makes as it travels across the pitch at speeds of up to 40mph.

Played over two 12-minute halves, two teams of three players attempt to get a weighted blue ball filled with bells into their rivals’ net, which spans the width of the pitch. All competitors wear black-out masks to ensure complete visual impairment.

The game was developed during World War II as a rehabilitative activity for newly blinded veterans. It has since spread around the world and is now played competitively in more than 100 countries.


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Goalball was developed during World War II as a rehabilitative activity for newly blinded veterans. It is played in silence: players listen for the tinkling sound of the ball to work out where it is.

Lilly Peel

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