Q1. How do you rate the Aussie Belles chances at the Tokyo Paralympics? What are some of the team’s particular strengths?
“We are very excited about our chances in Tokyo. We have a team which has a great balance between experience and youth and as a group we have proved to be determined, skilled and willing to challenge the best in the world with our own brand of goalball.
We have worked hard and shown time and time again that we are fighters and capable of overcoming whatever obstacles that are placed in our way. We have our eyes clearly set on our first ever Paralympic podium finish. We have demonstrated through the extensive qualification process that we have improved our defensive game, have a broader understanding of our capacity to implement strategy and we have great throwers.”
Q2. How many times have the Aussie Belles been to the Paralympics before and what has the team’s highest finish been?
“The Belles will be competing in their third consecutive Paralympic Games. In London we qualified four years ahead of plan and surprised many. In Rio, we qualified then had our position taken from us to make way for an African team only to be included again only seven weeks out from the games after the Russian team's ban. We qualified more than 12 months out from Tokyo and are looking for our best ever result. We are currently ranked ninth in the world.”
Q3. What did you think about the Goalball Packagoals?
“I have been very impressed by the innovative design of the Packagoals. One of the inhibiting factors in making goalball accessible is the equipment required and these goals have proved to be a wonderful training tool and we look forward to trialling them in full competition. They are transportable and really easy to erect and appear not only well designed but sturdy in their construction.”
Q4. How have the new goals assisted the build-up for the Tokyo Paralympics – including during a period when COVID-19 restrictions were in place?
“We have been very fortunate in our Victorian Hub to have access to the Packagoals during the Covid pandemic. They have provided us with a realistic tool to use to improve our skills whilst training in isolation from others. They are easy to use and replicate one of the most important parts of our game really well. I have recommended to Goalball Australia that they invest in these goals over all states.”
Q5. Is goalball a growing sport in Australia?
“Awareness of Goalball in Australia has grown as a direct result of the efforts of many people, but particularly the many women who have been part of our Belles’ journey. As a specific team sport for vision impaired athletes at the international level, it is likely to remain a sport with less of a profile but it is being introduced in schools as a sport which challenges anyone willing to allow a 1.25 kilogram missile to be thrown at them and stop it with their body while completely blindfolded.
Challenging - certainly.
Courageous - without doubt
Skilled - beyond your imagination
Just a little mad - definitely.”
More about goalball
Goalball was developed with blind and visually impaired athletes in mind. It is a Paralympic sport in which teams of three players roll a ball with bells inside it across an indoor court and into a nine-metre-wide goal at the other end. Players on the other team try to block the ball from entering their net by diving. Anyone can play – both blind and sighted wearing eye shades, relying on sound to identify where the ball is.
>> Goalball Packagoals were developed to help goalball clubs and competition organisers take the sport to new locations. Find out more.