Leeds Beckett University
TheSocialisationAndMotivationForParticipationOfVisuallyImpaired-ANTRITSOU_Redacted.pdf (2.35 MB)

The socialisation and motivation for participation of visually impaired and blind athletes in the sport of goalball

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posted on 2022-12-14, 13:16 authored by Maria Antritsou

Goalball was invented in 1946 by Hanz Lorenzen (Austria), and Sepp Reindle (Germany) for the visually impaired and blind World War II veterans. In 1976 goalball became a Paralympic sport and remains popular in special schools attended by people with visual impairment. Within mainstream schools goalball remains on the margins of the school curriculum. Physical activity and sport participation for people with disabilities is an area that has been researched widely. However, limited attention has been given to visually impaired people’s involvement in sport and specifically in goalball. In order to address this gap in research knowledge, this study adopted a mixed method approach to explore the initial socialisation and the motivation for goalball participation by visually impaired athletes engaging in recreational and elite levels. 

The study encompassed two phases including quantitative and qualitative data collection. The first phase involved the completion of a battery of validated questionnaires. Fifty-two athletes took part in this first phase which included twenty-nine (56%) males and twentythree (44%) females. The mean age of all the participants was M = 28.24 (SD = 9.010) :M = 28.6 (SD = 10.4) for males, M = 27.7 (SD = 7.0) for females. Phase Two involved qualitative semi-structured interviews with athletes selected from Phase One. Twenty-three British athletes were selected for the second phase of the research study and eighteen interviews were conducted. Theoretically, this study draws on Self-Determination Theory (SDT) and social model understandings of disability to explore the socialisation and participation in goalball for this specific sample. 

The results from Phase One were descriptive offering insights into the specific population studied. Additionally, motivation was measured with regards to basic psychological needs, perceived autonomy, competence and motives for participation in goalball. The results from the second qualitative phase provide understandings about initial socialisation, motivation to play goalball, and engagement and investment in goalball. These data position schooling and PE as an important site in which visually impaired young people may, or may not, develop their goalball careers. Friends, family and organisations were also critical contributors for the initial and on-going goalball involvement. Reasons for playing goalball and challenges encountered appear to be similar to those experienced by people without disabilities engaged in sport. The results also reveal that motivation was affected by intrinsic and extrinsic reasons. Relationships within the goalball community were cited as key reasons for ongoing engagement in goalball. This study concludes by arguing that the way society is constructed can impact on people with visual impairments and their experiences v of sport including goalball. Despite feeling motivated to play goalball, it appears that the opportunities to be active members of the goalball community were influenced by wider societal factors.


Qualification name

  • PhD


Fitzgerald, Hayley ; Borkoles, Erika ; Kirk, David

Awarding Institution

Leeds Beckett University

Completion Date


Qualification level

  • Doctoral


  • eng


Leeds Beckett University

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