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Innovation highlights first goalball league games in South Africa

Date: June 14, 2019

Category: Goalball

Four clubs competed in the opening games of the 2019 Western Cape Goalball League in Stellenbosch at the end of May, as new concepts were tested by local organisers to help grow the game in South Africa.

Following on from an International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Goalball clinic in December 2018, the organisers wanted to try modifications to see what impact it would have on player and spectator experience.
This meant that the first three minutes of each half of every game began with a three-minute power play. During this time players are only allowed to keep hold of the ball for seven seconds, three seconds less than normal, resulting in a quicker game.  
In addition each goal scored during the power play counted as two.
Finally, as goalball develops in the country, teams are allowed to use sighted players and mixed-gender teams.
Defending champions the University of Stellenbosch (also known as Maties) opened the tournament against Eerste Rivier.
After a halftime score of in favour of Maties, Eerste Rivier made a comeback in the second half with two power play goals. They then scored another after the power play, closing the gap to 11-9.  Despite Eerste Rivier’s strong comeback, Maties managed to hold on their lead and won the game.
The University of South Africa (UNISA), who lost in the 2018 finals against Maties, won their first game of the season against UCT (University of Cape Town) who are currently the only side to use sighted players.
UNISA’s win came due to a power play goal scored in the second half.
Maties dominated the rest of the tournament, wining their remaining games against UNISA and UCT. Eerste Rivier also beat UCT.
After the competition, the organisers reported that the power play and doubling of goals created a higher final score, but did not really have an influence on the amount of goals scored when compared with the average during other times of the game. 
Secondly, after the referee indicated that power play is over, the teams kept going on to play a quicker game – which may improve the spectator experience.
A total of six teams are competing in the Western Cape Goalball League.

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