Canadian Blind Sports is very saddened to share with the Goalball Community in Canada and across the world, that our dear friend and colleague Joelle Boulet passed away on June 13 2023 after enduring an extreme illness since October 2022.

Joelle was best known for her positivity, passion, and love of life, specifically adventures with her young daughter, and of course the Goalball Community both in Canada and across the World. While we mourn this tragic loss, we celebrate her life, her contribution to CBSA and GB, and hope to find solace in the amazing memories we are fortunate to have shared with Joelle. Our sincere sympathies are extended to family and friends. She will be truly missed, and always remembered.

Below is an excerpt from a 2017 profile on Joelle; a short rendition that shows to all of us, in many of her endearing words, the wonderful person that was Joelle Boulet.

“Our next profile of senior referees stays in North America. Whilst not a course conductor, Ms Joëlle BOULET voluntarily gives of her time as one of the seven members of RAG – the IBSA Goalball Referees Advisory Group. Living in Montréal, Quebec, Canada, Joëlle is the mother of a young daughter.

Today in charge of communications with Conseil Québécois du Loisir (Quebec Leisure Council), Joëlle first learned of the sport in 1997 when working with Défi Sportif (a competition for athletes with a disability). She first started with goalball in 2000 when Montréal hosted the Canadian national championships. It was an acquaintance whose request there cemented their lives as best friends.

The influence and warmth of the Goalball Family meeting many referees from around the world led Joëlle to her first referee clinic in January 2004, becoming a Level 3 referee in Manchester, UK, in October 2009. The 2005 World Youth Championships in Colorado Springs was ‘freaking exciting!’ Antalya, Turkey saw experience as a Level 3 for the Paralympic qualifier in 2011. And most recently, Joëlle was chosen as one of the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games goalball referee. Did I mention she has been a provincial then national referee representative since 2009, and a RAG member since December 2009?

And if she was not busy enough and filling in her world map with travelling, there’s running, and in 2006, Joëlle walked the Spain’s Pèlerinage de Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle (the ‘Camino Way’).

And what amazes Joëlle about this fantastic sport? Initially, it was the way players could track the ball… so easily! And after playing herself, the abilities of the *real* players! And it was their determination to do their best, that she sought to do her best so they could meet their goals. And today, without issues of religion and politics, it is the friendship of the Goalball Family. Joëlle is ensuring her own family with her new beautiful daughter is taking pride of place. Tres bien Joëlle!

Other hobbies/interests?
Walking, but I mean… walking. I did the Compstella Pelegrinage in 2006. And travelling. My world is not as full as I would like, but I know I had the privilege of discovering more country than a lot of people.

When did you start in goalball (year), where (place), and why (friends, child, volunteer request)?
I learned about goalball for the first time in 1997 while I was working for the Défi Sportif, a competition for disabled athletes. But I started as a volunteer in 2000, when Montreal hosted the National Championship, by a request from someone I know a bit, but since, become one of my best friends! I was ITO at the IBSA World Quebec 2003.

When did you become a referee (year)?
After Quebec 2003, where I met a lot of referees from around the world, I decided to become one too and did my first clinic in Montreal in January 2004. Became level 2 next January and level 3 in Manchester in October 2009.

Any specific achievements or roles you wish noted?
I did the first World Youth in Colorado Spring as a fresh level 2 in July 2005, it was freaking exciting! In 2008, I did so much tournaments that I need extra sheet on my passport (no ePass yet)! My first appointment as level 3 was the Paralympic qualifications in Antalya in 2011. My last big achievement was the Paralympics in Rio 2016.

I’m the Quebec referees representative since 2009, and was the National referees representative to CBSA. And I’m in the IBSA Referees Advisory Group (RAG) since December 2009.

What is it that you like about or amazes you about goalball?
When I first saw goalball, I was amaze and cannot believe that players can’t rack the ball so… easily! And I played, to raise money for our provincial association. I played 3 times! And was most amazed by the abilities of the « real » players! I admire the determination of the players and decided to do my best to help them reach their goals. And then… I met the referees…Definitely, friendship was the big part of this sport: we are not only co-worker on the field, we are friends outside the court, no religion, no politic, we are friend, period. I will so miss the goalball community. Because yes, 2017 is my last season as a referee. I did my last National tournament in Vancouver last April and will do my last tournament in Tokyo in next August. I received my retirement ball! I’m a single mom since June 2015 and I now want to live this new live plenty. It’s not an easy decision to make but I’m in peace with.