Since creating a justgiving.com donation appeal last year, Great Britain women’s national goalball team have raised only £7,295 of their £35,000 goal for qualifying for the 2016 Summer Paralympics, which involves going to South Korea to compete in the 2015 IBSA World Games. The competition run from May 8 to May 18 in Seoul, and is the last opportunity for the women to qualify for Rio if they can win it. Teams that have already qualified for Rio are barred from competing. Elite sport funding for goalball was cut last year by Sports UK, who did not think the national teams had a realistic chance of qualifying for and medaling in Rio.
The British women are currently ranked 18th in the world. Team GB women have been drawn in a pool with Pool Y includes Japan, Canada, Australia, Sweden, Great Britain, Spain, and Ghana. They do not have a second opportunity to qualify at the 2015 IBSA Goalball European Championships Men & Women A in July in Kaunas Lithuania, because the depth in Europe is very high and they are not in the A level championship. Women’s European teams eligible to qualify through that route include Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Israel, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine.
The fundraising effort is being driven by a number of players including Brittany Stead, who has been a regular member of the British squad but is currently unable to compete because of upcoming surgery. Despite not currently being a member of the national side, the 18-year-old from Cleckheaton has raised £2,000. She plays club goalball for Kirklees on the elite and intermediate level. She told the Bradford Telegraph and Argus in an article published yesterday, “It’s not an exaggeration to say that goalball changed my life. It’s amazing to play a sport designed with my disability in mind. My confidence has grown massively and I never thought I’d be playing sport at an international level. […] We were the wild card at London 2012. No-one expected us to do as well as we did. By the end of the games, we were the second most successful GB women’s team sport across both the Paralympics and the Olympics. […] We want to take that same attitude to Seoul. It’s our last shot at Rio so we’ll be giving it our all. I’m gutted I won’t be able to go to Seoul but I’m 100 per cent behind fundraising to get us all to Rio.”
Georgie Bullen and Sarah Leiter are another two players working towards raising the funds. Leiter has managed to raise £5,000. Bullen acquired items from Saracens RUFC and a signed photo of Liverpool and England striker Daniel Sturridge for an auction with the proceeds going towards the team. Bullen told Cambridge News last week, “We were the wild card at London 2012. No one expected us to do as well as we did.[…] By the end of the games, we were the second most successful GB women’s team across both the Paralympics and the Olympics. […] We want to take that same attitude to Seoul. It’s our last shot at Rio so we’ll be giving it our all.”