April 23 is Children’s Day in Turkey. Children celebrate with a program at school involving dancing, singing, flags and costumes. Last Saturday I saw an abundance of children with balloons and painted faces wearing mini sultan’s outfits. Children from all over the world are invited and attend festivities in Ankara.
This year, Ankara’s mayor or governor or something of the sort, decided to hold the first annual Children’s Games in Ankara. For the past two or three weeks, posters have advertised a variety of sports competitions that are currently being held throughout the city. The mascot for these games is the Ankara (or Van, depending on who you ask) Cat. A cat famous for having two differently colored eyes. We had a great time trying to figure out what eskrim was (it’s fencing). But one sport we were completely befuddled by: goalball.
The posters for goalball showed the Ankara Cat with a blindfold on, holding a ball with a bell inside of it, making a bowling type motion. At first, I literally thought that this was simply soccer with a blind folded goalie who could only tell where the ball was based on the sound.
I asked all of my students in every single class and none of them had any idea what I was talking about.
Finally, Stephanie found this:
Some research has shown that this sport is played by blind people and was created in 1946 to help World War II veterans suffering from blindness to rehabilitate. It is now played at the Paralympic Games. Blindfolds are used to create an equal playing field since partially blind athletes are of course eligible to play.
You’ll see in the video, teams of three take turns bowling the ball with a bell inside toward the other team’s goals. The opposing team’s players then dive on the ground, covering as much area as possible so as to stop the ball.
Goalball matches started today. I don’t think we’ll be able to view any, but it sure sounds interesting.