by Sierra Romero
Goalball has been a sport for 73 years, each year bringing more talent and excitement to the court. As goalball continues to grow, there is also the need for more goalball officials.
A goalball official is the same as a referee in any other sport. Their job is to uphold the rules and maintain the flow of the game. Goalball officials are usually volunteers who have received training or certification to ensure high-quality officiating.
To gain a better understanding of what this position looks like, Linda Welborn, a goalball official, provided a peek into her life and how she found the sport of goalball.
Before recently being named goalball coordinator for the U.S. men’s and women’s goalball programs, Welborn had a few different part-time jobs that could be done on the road, which made her position as a goalball official even more accessible for travel.
Welborn’s first exposure to goalball was at a sports camp that her children attended at Lakeshore Foundation in Birmingham, Alabama. Hosted by seven-time Paralympian Jen Armbruster, the Welborn children found the sport enjoyable and began to excel and she found herself involved with the team, helping wherever she could. While being an official never crossed Welborn’s mind, Lakeshore was holding a clinic and Armbruster suggested she take it.
“It started with my kids’ involvement but has grown into a love of the sport and the people involved,” said Welborn.
When asked about her favorite experience while being a goalball official, Welborn recalled back to her first IBSA International Tournament, the 2017 IBSA Youth World Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
“This tournament was great for so many reasons; learning from officials from other countries, seeing the sights of another country, and being able to watch (my son) Josh win the gold at his last Youth World tournament,” Welborn said.
If becoming an official sounds interesting yet intimidating, here’s some good news; becoming a goalball official is simpler than it seems. Excluding international certification, there are currently no prerequisites or fees to become a goalball official in the United States. The process involves one day of classroom time, a written exam, and an evaluation calling three games, all of which can be completed over the course of a weekend.
“You are well supported in all of your training,” says Welborn, “We have a great group of officials and everyone is always willing to help out and give good feedback.”
Being a goalball official not only affects what happens on the court. As Welborn says, “In addition to all of the great officials, coaches and players I have met and become friends with from all over the world, it has also brought me to a closer relationship with my son, Josh, that I may never have obtained. We have an incredible bond thanks to goalball.”
Involving yourself in a sport carries a monumental impact on the players, supporters, and anyone else involved. For further information on how to become a goalball official, locate your nearest club to see when the next clinics are being held. For a list of USABA Sports Clubs, go to https://www.usaba.org/membership/usaba-sports-clubs/.
For more information on the sport, see the International Blind Sports Federation Goalball Rules and Regulation Manual: https://www.usaba.org/wp-content/uploads/18-21_IBSA_Goalball_Rules_and_Regulations.pdf.
Photo Description: (Left to Right) Linda Welborn standing next to her son Josh, and his dad, David Welborn at Nationals this year.