World Sight Day was celebrated by a sport event for the first time in Armenia on Thursday as a goalball championship was held in Armenia on the occasion of the day. Four teams from Yerevan, Gyumri, Abovyan and Echmiadzin participated in the competition.
The goalball tournament that started on Thursday morning at the Mika gym was a real festive occasion for 12 athletes of different ages who have sight problems. They did their best to win.
(Goalball is a team sport designed for blind athletes. Participants compete in teams of three, and try to throw the ball that has bells embedded in it into the opponents’ goal.)
The tournament was organized by the Armenian National Disabled Sports Federation (ANDSF) and the Armenian EyeCare Project (AECP) and with the sponsorship of the Orange Foundation, Mika Ltd., and the Ministry of Health.
ANDSF President Samvel Rostomyan told ArmeniaNow that it is the third time that a goalball championship is held in Armenia, adding that they receive no state support.
Aramayis Simonyan, a member of the Kaytsak (Lightening) team from Echmiadzin, who lost his sight because of an accident at the age of 8, told ArmeniaNow that the Goalball Championship is “a very pleasant event for him and his teammates.”
“This event has a great significance for us, because it gives us an opportunity to deal with something, we somehow feel to be sportsmen,” says Simonyan, 51.
Simonyan, who has been involved in disabled sports since 1984, speaking about the inactive state of the disabled sports in the 1990s, says, “I was hopeless, I did not hope that any tournament would ever be held. I thought that our time was over. But now I am very happy, and I participate in the Championship for the second year.”
After some tense struggle the Aryutsner (Lions) team from Abovyan eventually became the winter. Echmiadzin’s Kaytsak placed second, followed by Yerevan’s Sipan and Gyumri’s Shirak. Mobile phone operator Orange presented all participants of the tournament with special “Caring” phones with big buttons that are designed for handicapped people.
Nune Yeghiazaryan, head of the AECP Yerevan office, says that by organizing such an event they try to show that “people who have to live an inactive life for some kind of a reason can be active and integrate into the society.”
During the recent eight years AECP has realized the Bringing Sight to Armenian Eyes Project, during which the AECP state-of-the-art Mobile Eye Hospital traveled throughout Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh for four times to provide high quality eye care for more than 250,000 people.