Australia’s senior goalball sides have been presented with the opportunity to take on the world’s best after being invited to compete at the 2018 Goalball World Championships.
Both the Australian Women’s (Aussie Belles) and the Australian Men’s Goalball teams (Aussie Storm) will travel to Sweden in June 2018 for the tournament. Blind Sports Australia, Goalball Australia and the Australian Paralympic Committee believe the invitation is reward for the commitment shown by Australian players in recent years.
Currently, the Belles are ranked 7th in the world, while Storm sit in 23rd place and both will be hoping they can use the World Championships as a method of qualification for the 2020 Paralympics.
Aussie Storm players Michael Sheppard and Jon Horsburgh are looking forward to the 2018 tournament, with it being the first international competition the men’s team has qualified for in a number of years.
"It has been a long time since an Australian men's team has qualified for a world event in Goalball.
“It's been a tough slog, especially in such a competitive region as Asia Pacific, but after a four-year re-building phase our hard work and sacrifice is paying off. We are working hard to continue improving so we can take it to the best in the world."
Goalball is one of the few sports specifically designed for people who are blind or have low vision. The game is played by people with varying levels of vision, with all players wearing totally blacked out eyeshades to ensure a level playing field.
There are three players from each team on the court at any one time and each time tries to roll a ball past the opposition and into their goal. A goalball ball weighs 1.25kg and has bells inside it to assist players with tracking it. The world’s top goalball players are capable of throwing the ball at more than 90km/hr.
Vision Australia can support people who are blind or have low vision to become involved in goalball or other sports. Find out more on our website.
For more information on goalball in particular, head to Goalball Australia’s website.