Mason Smith and Tarah Sawler are the first two Nova Scotians ever to make the Canadian junior goalball national boys and girls teams. They will represent Canada at the International Blind Sports Association’s (IBSA) World Youth Games in Colorado Springs, Colorado from July 28th to the 31st.
Tarah, 16 years old from Dartmouth, led the Nova Scotia junior girls to the bronze medal at the junior nationals in Brantford, ON in March. She is in her second year of goalball and also plays for the Nova Scotia Senior Women’s’ team. Mason, 15 years old from Middleton, achieved the rare feat of winning both junior and senior Mens’ national titles this season and has been named to the junior boys national team in just his first year of goalball.
Linda MacRae Triff from Dartmouth was selected by the Canadian Blind Sports Association (CBSA) to coach the junior boys national team at this year’s tournament. MacRae-Triff, who also coaches the Nova Scotia Senior Men’s and Women’s teams has also coached the Junior girls team from the beginning of the programs short two year existence.
Nova Scotia men’s goalball athlete and junior assistant coach, Peter Parsons from Halifax will be the assistant coach for the Canadian junior boys and girls teams. Parsons says: “It is a testament to the strength of Nova Scotia’s new Junior Goalball program that both Tarah and Mason have been selected by CBSA to be a part of Canada’s World Junior teams.” Parsons, who is an Orientation & mobility Specialist with the Atlantic Provinces Special Education Authority works with visually impaired youth in the province and is familiar with the unique challenges that they face: “Organized sports can be a challenge for visually impaired youth. Junior Goalball is a great way to promote acceptance and active lifestyles from an early age.” Parsons adds that the success of our boys and girls Junior program bodes well for the future of Goalball in Nova Scotia: “We’re just getting started and I’m really excited to see where both our Junior and Senior programs go in the next few years!”
Goalball is a Paralympic sport that was created after WWII for blinded veterans. It is a team sport played by athletes who are blind or visually impaired. Played on a volleyball sized court on a gym floor with goals at either end spanning the entire back line, two teams of three players compete by throwing a ball along the floor and into the opposite team’s goal. The opposing team attempts to physically block the ball from crossing the goal line. Because players can have different levels of vision, all participants are blindfolded to create a level playing field as they listen for the goalball, which has bells in it.
Simon Richard (left) and Mason Smith (right) display their double gold medals that they won at both the junior boys and senior men’s national goalball championships this year. They won national titles with the New Brunswick junior boys in March and the Nova Scotia Senior men in April which make them two of a small handful of players ever to achieve this rare feat of winning junior and senior national titles in the same season. In his first year of goalball, Mason made the junior boys national team and is training for the IBSA World Youth Games in Colorado Springs from July 28th to the 31st. Simon, MVP of the junior and seniror nationals, will be playing for the men’s national team at the Para Pan Am games in Toronto from August 8th to the 15th. Good luck boys!