Great Britain men’s team continued their preparation for the IBSA European B Championships, which take place in Poland later this month, by competing in an exhibition match using world-first inflatable goalball goals and barriers.

The match, played between members of the GB squad and emerging talent within the sport, took place at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield. The event was a celebration of Goalball UK’s recent Investor in Customers Silver Award and was a platform to raise awareness of the Paralympic sport.

Goalball UK chief executive, Mark Winder, said the event had been a great success, demonstrating the sport to people from a wide range of backgrounds.

“It was a hard-fought match and a real spectacle. The players were throwing the goalball at up to 70 kilometres per hour, so it takes some real skill for defenders to dive and save shots like that. Then there is the bravery of having a ball that weighs 1.25kg thrown at you whilst wearing eyeshades.”

Mr Winder said the inflatable goals and barriers, supplied by New Zealand company Packaworld International, had great potential for helping clubs and organisations grow participation numbers.

The Goalball Packagoals can be deflated when not in use, making them easy to store, and transport between venues. Packafences keep the game flowing and reduce the amount of time players and officials spend retrieving shots that miss.

“We’re always seeking innovation, particularly if it will help us grow participation in goalball,” Mr Winder said. “This new high-quality portable gear will make it so much easier for us to introduce the game to new people and communities, especially when we work in schools.

“It is timely as we have recently started our national schools programme. I see the goals being really beneficial for this activity.”

Packaworld chief executive Peter Roberts said the goals had been developed specifically for the goalball community to ensure players could “play for real”, wherever they went.

“In many places goalball is played using cones to mark the goal and it can be difficult for players to know if a goal has been scored or not. The beauty of these goals is that they allow clubs and organisations to introduce goalball to people that that wouldn’t otherwise be able to play in real game conditions.”

Packaworld worked closely with Blind Sport New Zealand to develop the goals and they have been used for goalball events and Blind Sport open days in New Zealand. Goalball balls are a weighty 1.25 kilograms so Goalball Packagoals and Packafences had been designed to withstand heavy impacts.