GB Women’s team bring home the gold on their first step towards Tokyo 2020!

Image taken at the women’s medals ceremony of the Portugal 2016 Euros with the three podiums – Greece on the right in third place, Germany on the left in second and GB in the middle in first place. Shows the six players and Coach Aaron Ford.

Team GB have had a spectacular week of Goalball at the Euro Group B 2016 Championships held in Portugal, with the men’s team winning silver and the women’s team picking up the gold. Both teams have now secured promotion to the highest level of European Goalball; the European A League.

 

Aaron Ford (RNC Sports Academy Teacher and GB Women’s Goalball Coach) stands with Kali in the RNC sports hall. They are both holding the Euro winning trophy from Portugal 2016 as they stand in front of a bench in the sports hall with a ball next to their feet.

Coach Aaron Ford with Kali

At The Royal National College for the Blind (RNC), we were proud to see the College well represented on the podium with RNC Graduates Dan Roper and Caleb Nanevie in the men’s squad and Laura Perry in the women’s squad. Current RNC student, 16 year old Kali Holder competed in her first major international tournament, scoring 7 goals in the process!

 

Gold medal winning Kali, from Brighton, said “The tournament was a lot of fun both on and off the court. I was nervous before the first match but I think that everyone gets nervous if they really care about something- I wanted us to do well and show the other teams what we’re made of. The tournament was amazing; winning gold was the icing on the cake”

 

Aaron Ford, GB Women’s Goalball Coach and RNC Sports Academy Teacher said “I would have been happy for a top three finish but the girls put on an incredible team display as well as individual performances. They are not only great athletes, and ambassadors of disability sport; they are fantastic role models for women.”

 

Close up portrait image of Laura Perry wearing her GB Goalball team shirt with a large number 3 on the front.

Top goal scorer Laura Perry

Of the 64 goals that the unbeaten women’s GB team scored, 32 of them were scored by RNC Sports Academy Ambassador Laura Perry who was named the competition’s top goal scorer.  Aaron says “If you look at Laura Perry, she’s only been playing GB Goalball for three years and she is the top scorer and performer in this competition. That could be Kali in a few years – she’s got bags of talent and I am excited to see how she improves. “

 

After their impressive display at the Euros, Women’s GB are now ranked 8th in Europe and have been promoted to the European A League, which is largely considered to be the strongest and most competitive category in the world; it is home to the current Paralympic gold team Turkey. Aaron says  “We need to build on the momentum of this Euros win, I can’t wait to compete with the best Goalball teams in the world – I want to show them that we deserve to be playing alongside them. This is the first step towards Tokyo 2020 – the route starts now!” After a weekend of celebrations it was back to reality for full time student Kali on Monday morning as she returned to her lessons.

 

The final scores of the tournament for GB Women were;

  • France: 13-3
  • Greece: 6-4
  • Hungary: 10-0
  • Portugal: 10-0
  • Spain: 10-0
  • Netherlands: 11-1
  • Germany: 4-1

 

As a full member of the RNC’s Sports Academy, Kali enjoys up to five hours of Goalball every week and admits that since she started playing at the age of 14, she has become addicted “I love how Goalball is different to every other sport, you’ve all got to wear eyeshades so you’re on an equal playing field and the success of a game depends on the way you work as a team.”

 

Kali states “I’d only been a student at RNC for a month before the tournament but having the extra Goalball practice definitely helped. I know that being a member of the RNC Sports Academy will certainly help me in the future. There is a good standard of Goalball at RNC, I have opportunities to play against men and women, as the styles of play tend to be different.” This will come in useful because, as well as national (and international Goalball), Kali’s next challenge is preparing for her first domestic match in mixed elite Goalball in November as she takes the court to represent Team RNC for the first time.

 

If you want to find out more about joining the UK’s first Sports Academy specifically for people with visual impairment, you can call the enquiries line on 01432 376 621 or email info@rnc.ac.uk

 

Article written by Bik Lee, Digital Media Officer at RNC