College Goalball 101: How to start your team

The sport of goalball is played at the Paralympic Games, but there are other levels of competition as well. One of the emerging levels of competition for goalball is at the collegiate level.

College goalball, as of the time this story was written, does not have a governing body which creates many hurdles for universities interested in starting a new team. There are not any official guidelines on how to start a college goalball team, but the steps outlined below should help anyone interested in creating a collegiate goalball team get on the right path.

The following steps are just recommendations and the university or individual interested in establishing a college goalball team will have to make a few choices.

The first big decision to make is figuring out which on-campus organization your new team will fall under. There are three main organizations you might consider and they are the athletics department, campus recreation and the Student Government Association. Every university may differ in how various departments and programs operate so the individual interested in starting a college goalball team will have to conduct research before making a decision on which organization to be a part of.

Many athletic departments want their teams to bring in some kind of revenue. Goalball, at the time of writing this article, most likely will not bring in as much revenue as a sport like basketball or football which may cause challenges picking this option. The benefits of choosing the athletics department include receiving gym facilities and staff members that get paid.

Campus recreation might be the best option out of the three mentioned above. Campus recreation departments have a set of guidelines for their sport clubs to follow which help support an emerging sport like goalball. Bringing in revenue is not mandatory and getting funding for equipment and other necessary items is not as difficult as other options. You will have to stick to campus recreation guidelines and must stay in good standing in order to receive the various benefits which also includes gym space for practice and competitions.

The Student Government Association is the third option. There might be fewer requirements under the SGA, but finding important resources such as gym space might become challenging depending on how your university operates. Funding might still be a big benefit if you decide to create your organization through the SGA.

You must advertise and pitch the sport of goalball to whichever department you choose to be a part of. All benefits of bringing goalball to your campus should be outlined. Benefits of having a goalball team on a college campus include creating an inclusive environment, breaking down the social barrier between sighted and visually impaired individuals and providing individuals with a visual impairment with an athletic opportunity at the college level.

You can decide whether you’d like to mention the difficulties of having a goalball team on campus. Some of the challenges of having a goalball team on campus include finding an appropriate facility to play the sport, finding funding and gaining interest from the community.

The next step is gaining interest in the sport of goalball on campus. The sport should be explained in its true form and should not be presented as a blind sport. Presenting goalball as a blind sport may decrease interest. Make sure to inform students, staff and anyone else interested in goalball that it is an inclusive sport and anyone can play regardless of the level of vision they have.

The following step is optional. You can join the United States Association of Blind Athletes and register your university’s goalball team as a USABA sport club. Benefits of becoming a USABA sport club include networking opportunities with other teams, support and discounts on equipment at times.

You will have to find a way to get equipment. USABA offers a goalball kit which includes goaballs, eyeshaddes, elbow and knee pads, tape and court wire. The included eyeshades in the USABA goalball kit might not always be legal at some tournaments which means your team may need to purchase eyeshades from either Goalfix Sports or Targe. You will also need to supply your team with court tape over time, especially if your university requires you to assemble and disassemble the court.

You will then have to create standards for your college goalball team. You should create a club constitution that outlines what the team stands for, officer positions, member requirements, information on whether your team charges dues and any bylaws your team comes up with. You must then find a way to enforce the standards you set in the team’s constitution, but remember to be flexible as other members of your team are also college students who might be busy with other activities.

You need to work with the organization you chose to be a part of to determine how many times your club practices, where your club practices and figure out how your team can grow.

One idea of growing your newly formed college goalball team is to reach out to your university’s media department and see if they can write a story or produce a video package detailing goalball and how it is unique to your campus.

You can gain interest with your new goalball team by asking a department such as Disability Support Services to see if any of their visually impaired athletes would like to play on your team. You should also focus on finding students who would like to become future educators as playing goalball will help them work with visually impaired students later on in their career. Also try to reach out to your university’s kinesiology department as future physical education teachers may also find interest in your club. Some professors and university staff could also help you grow your collegiate goalball team if you pitch the sport and club properly.

Luxuries such as finding a coach, having team uniforms and traveling and hosting competitions will come soon. You and your club members must remember to be patient, polite and understanding if you want to grow you team.

You can reach out to a future teacher or graduate student and try to instruct them on how to coach goaball.

Having team uniforms and being able to travel will come when your team gets funding. The way your team will receive funding depends on the department you decided to be a part of.

Starting a college goalball team can be difficult and challenging, but is extremely rewarding once things get going. Remember to be patient and willing to work with new individuals in order to grow and expand your team. You must continue to maintain the standards you and your team agreed on and must follow all guidelines of the organization you joined.

Goalball is a unique sport to have on a college campus as it increases inclusiveness. There will be many challenges when trying to start a new college goalball team, but the feeling of being rewarded will be felt once the ball gets rolling on the court.

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