Together with that jingling ball for over 25 years

Kari Räsänen is the Chairman of the Goalball Sports Committee in the International Blind Sports Federation IBSA. Räsänen has worked as a technical delegate of goalball in the two previous Paralympic Games. He is also the Chairman of the Local Organizing Committee of the 2017 IBSA Goalball European Championships.

Many times I have been asked how I got involved in goalball. Before 1991 I had never heard the word goalball in my life. In that spring, though, a relative asked me and my wife to come work as a volunteer officials in the Finnish goalball national championship tournament. We got to try various different tasks during the tournament: goal judge, table official etc. Some kind of enthusiasm for this sport woke up inside of me. In that same year Finland would host the European Championships in my home city Lahti and the organizers were seeking for officials.

Lahti offered excellent circumstances for the European Championships in 1991. Lahti Sport hall, which has now been torn down, was big enough for two playing courts and space for warm up. Accommodation was only few hundred meters from the Sport hall so there were really now need for complains. All that made me even more enthusiastic for the sport. Fast pace of the game and warm international atmosphere made me completely fall for it.

Journey continued later that autumn as me and my wife participated in a goalball referee course. Now we have been goalball referees for over 25 years. After some time we moved on with our referee duties to international goalball tournaments, first to Sweden, then Lithuania and later on to the various European tournaments around Europe. This global sport has bring us lots of friends from all around the World.

Kari Marklund & Kari Räsänen

The International Blind Sports Federation IBSA had formed a referee committee and I joined it in the beginning of this century. As years went by I got more and more refereeing duties as well as various jobs in organizing international tournaments. I experienced my first Paralympic Games in Beijing 2008 and it was a great trip. In the two previous Paralympic Games in London 2012 and Rio 2016 I have had an honour to be a technical delegate of the goalball tournament.

The IBSA Goalball subcommittee went through some changes in 2011, only a year before the London Paralympics. Kari Marklund from Sweden was named as a new chairman. He asked me to be a new Sports Director. Marklund retired in 2014 and my duties as a chairman of the goalball subcommittee began in 2015.

This year Finland celebrates 100th anniversary as an independent nation and my home city Lahti is once again a central place in goalball as the 2017 IBSA Goalball European Championships are held in the Pajulahti Sport Institute. The most successful teams in Pajulahti will get their tickets to the 2018 World Championships in Malmö, Sweden.

Welcome to Lahti, we’ll promise to organize a wonderful tournament!