The 2016 IBSA Goalball Africa Regional Championships are scheduled to get underway tomorrow in Algiers, Algeria and officially wrap up on March 4. Play will get underway on Monday.
The competition will be the biggest one ever for Africa, featuring the most ever men’s and women’s national teams. On the women’s side, Algeria, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco and Tunisia are all scheduled to participate. On the men’s side, Algeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco and Tunisia are scheduled to be there.
Alongside the competition, the IBSA is hosting a number of related events. This includes the workshops related to coaching, refereeing and officiating, and tournament organization. IBSA Goalball President Kari Rasanen has been quoted by the organization as saying, “This is a good opportunity to educate a large group of people from different countries while they gather together at a large competition. IBSA Goalball has a very advanced development path for referees and officials. Now we have enlarged our offering to include coaches and also people responsible for organizing tournaments. In combination with these measures, we believe we will provide some skills that will make it easier for many countries to develop the skills of players and coaches and also increase the number of competition opportunities.”
Algeria’s men are the top ranked African team in the world, and are currently ranked number nine, one spot behind the United States. Egypt is ranked twenty-seventh in the world and Morocco is ranked thirty-fifth. Rwanda, who are not participating, are ranked forty-seventh in the world. Ghana is ranked not far behind at fifty-second. Kenya, who have a NPC in turmoil and facing massive funding issues, are ranked sixty-seventh. At the moment, the only women’s team from Africa that is ranked is Algeria, and they are ranked thirtieth, one spot ahead of France and two ahead of Mexico.