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Niall’s Paralympic goal

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Niall’s Paralympic goal
Article date: 02 Aug 2012

Niall, who is a regular at The Samuel Lloyd, in Corby, is a member of the six-man Great Britain goalball squad competing at the Paralympic Games.

He was also chosen as a torchbearer, as the Olympic flame passed through the Northamptonshire town on 2 July.

Niall, 20, said: “The final squad hasn’t been announced yet, but I am hoping to make one of the six competing places.

“It was also a great honour to be selected as the torchbearer for Corby and carry it through my home town.

Niall, who is from Corby and lives in the town, plays centre for the elite goalball team Blaby in Leicestershire. He has been playing the sport since August 2010.

A visually impaired athlete, Niall has six per cent of his sight. The rules for international goalball competition require participants to have under 10 per cent.

He said: “There will be 12 men’s and 10 women’s teams taking part in the Paralympic Games. China is the defending Paralympic champion – with the current world champions being Lithuania.

“We have a lot of hard work to do, but our preparations are going well and anything is possible.”

Hannah Keith, shift manager at The Samuel Lloyd, pictured with Niall, said: “We are all so proud of Niall and will be cheering him and the GB goalball team all the way.”

Goalball, originally developed in 1946 as a rehabilitation programme for visually impaired World War II veterans, was officially included in the Paralympic movement in the 1980 summer games in Arnhem and ever since.

Goalball is a game played by two teams of three players, with a maximum of three substitutions on each team. It is open to both male and female visually impaired athletes, while sighted players can also play domestically.

The game is played on an indoor court 18m long and 9m wide (the same size as a volleyball court), with a goal at each end, measuring 9m by 1.3m.

The court has tactile markings (string which is taped to the floor), helping players to determine where they are. The ball contains internal bells; these help players to locate it during play. All players wear eyeshades, so that they are totally blindfolded.

The object of the game is to score a goal by bowling the ball (1.25kg) along the floor, so that it crosses the goal line of the opposing team. The defending team has to prevent the ball from going in its goal by stopping it, while remaining in the team area. They must then try to control the ball and attack by bowling the ball back again, thereby trying to score in the other goal.

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