It doesn’t matter. Score enough, in each one, and you’ll win.

Today, our survey of Paralympic sports takes in three goal-related disciplines:

Football and Goalball

Football 5-a-side, Football 7-a-side, and Goalball.

Respect, to the good people at

http://www.london2012.com/paralympics/sports/

the official London 2012 Paralympics website, for provision of facts and figures.

Here we go.

Football 5-a-side

Played by visually impaired athletes using a ball with a noise-making device inside (so players can hear it when it is on the ground or in the air), 5-a-side Football will see eight teams battling for gold at the new Riverbank Arena in the Olympic Park.

Each team has a squad of eight athletes per team.

Each country is limited to one team.

Although athletes may have different degrees of visual impairment, all four outfield players must wear blackout masks to ensure fairness. The goalkeeper may be fully sighted.

The pitch (field of play) is 42m long and 22m wide, with goals at either end 3m wide and 2m high.

The pitch is divided into thirds, with each team allowed one (sighted) guide for each third of the pitch to call out instructions: the attacking third; the midfield third, for which the team’s coach is the guide; and the defensive third, for which the goalkeeper serves as the guide.

The pitch is surrounded with a rebound wall; the sport is played with no throw-ins and no offside rule, which ensures non-stop action.

A referee oversees each game, assisted by a second referee.

If a player commits five personal fouls, they are sent off for the rest of the match. Some infringements will lead to the opposition team being awarded a free kick, giving them possession. If a player is fouled inside the goal area, he is awarded a penalty kick, which can lead to a goal.

Matches are played over two halves of 25 minutes each, plus 10 minutes for half-time.

5-a-side Football made its Paralympic debut at Athens in 2004.

The Paralympic tournament features eight men’s teams, initially two groups of four teams in a round-robin format. The top two teams in each group qualify for the semi-finals, with the winning semi-finalists going head to head for the gold.

In the group matches, games can be played to a draw. In the semi-finals, if scores are tied the game goes straight to a penalty shoot-out. In the final, if scores are tied at the end of full time, two five-minute periods of extra time are played. If scores are still tied after this, the game goes to a penalty shoot-out of five shots per team, followed by sudden-death penalties if necessary.

David Clarke, who is likely to play for Great Britain, has scored 113 goals in 120 appearances for his country – an average of 0.94 goals per game. (Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney averages 0.37 goals per game for England.)

Football 7-a-side

7-a-side Football is played by athletes with cerebral palsy. They are classified as follows:

C5 – athletes with difficulties when walking and running, but not when standing or kicking a ball.

C6 – athletes with control and coordination problems of their upper limbs, especially when running.

C7 – athletes with coordination problems in one arm and leg on the same side of the body.

C8 – minimal disability athletes; they must meet eligibility criteria and have an obvious impairment that has an impact on their ability to play football.

Teams must include at least one athlete with either C5 or C6 classification. If this is not possible, the team must play with six players. No more than three C8 players are allowed to play at the same time.

7-a-side Football follows FIFA rules, with some modifications. Each team consists of seven players, but the playing field is smaller (75m long and 55m wide), as are the goals (5m by 2m).

There is no offside rule. Throw-ins may be made with one hand only, and each half lasts 30 minutes.

At London 2012, the Riverbank Arena will host eight men’s teams in a 20-match tournament, culminating in the gold medal match on 9 September.

The 7-a-side Football tournament features the eight teams, with two groups of four teams playing in a round-robin format. The top two teams in each group will qualify for the semi-finals, with the winning semi-finalists going head to head for the gold.

In the group matches, games can be played to a draw. In the knockout stages, two 10-minute periods of extra time are played. If scores are still tied after this, the game goes to a penalty shoot-out of five kicks per team, followed by sudden-death penalties if necessary.

A referee oversees each game, assisted by two assistant referees, who are on either side of the pitch.

A player’s first offence may result in a yellow card, with a second yellow card meaning a red card and instant dismissal – leaving the other team with an extra-player advantage.

Some infringements will lead to the opposition team being awarded a free kick, giving them possession. If a player is fouled inside the goal area, he is awarded a penalty kick, providing the chance of a game-changing goal.

7-a-side Football has been part of the Paralympic program since the New York and Stoke Mandeville 1984 Games.

Goalball

Goalball was developed as a rehabilitation activity for injured soldiers returning from World War II. It is played by visually impaired athletes using a ball with bells inside.

All the athletes wear blackout masks (eyeshades) on the playing court, which allows persons with varying degrees of vision to participate together.

The Goalball court is 18m long and 9m wide. The court is divided in half by a center line, and each half is further divided into three sections by lines at 3m intervals. Each of the court lines are marked by tape and are slightly raised to allow players to orientate themselves. Goals extend across the full width of the court at either end, and are 1.3m high.

The aim is to score by rolling the ball at speed into the opposition’s goal, while the opposition attempts to block the ball with their bodies. Spectators must be quiet during play so that players can hear the ball (and each other), but they are free to cheer when a goal is scored. The team that scores the most goals is the winner.

In competition, the ball reaches speeds of 60 kilometers per hour. Players literally put their bodies on the line, to stop the fast-moving ball crossing into the goal.

The ball is not passed up the court, and each throw is effectively a shot on goal.

Each team has 10 seconds to take a throw, and any team member may take it – but not more than twice before another team member must have a turn. This includes half-time, so a player who has taken two consecutive throws at the end of the first half cannot throw at the beginning of the second half until another team member has made a shot.

Matches last for two periods of 12 minutes each, but the clock stops every time the referee blows for an infringement and starts again when play restarts. Each team is also permitted three 45-second time-outs or breaks.

In the event of a tie in the knockout stages, two further periods of three minutes each will be held, decided by a golden goal. This is followed by extra throws if necessary – similar to how a penalty shoot-out works, in Football.

Each game has two referees, four goal judges, one scorer, one timer and one back-up timer, one shot recorder, and two ten-second timers.

Introduced to the Games as a demonstration event at the Toronto 1976 Games, Goalball was added to the Paralympic program as a full medal sport four years later, in Arnhem. The women’s tournament first featured at the New York and Stoke Mandeville 1984 Games.

Both the men’s and women’s tournaments begin with a round-robin group stage. The 12 men’s teams are divided into two groups of six teams, while the 10 women’s teams are divided into two groups of five. The top four teams in each group qualify for the quarter-finals, from which point the tournaments are played in a knockout format.

Each country is limited to one men’s and one women’s team.

And we’ve reached the limit, for this session.

See you again, soon.

Peace.

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