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March ace Joe Roper helps Great Britain to U23 goalball bronze at Euro Para Youth Games in Finland

By Pete Woodhouse

Goalball is a fast-paced team sport for athletes with a visual impairment.

March resident Joe Roper played a key role helping Great Britain’s under-23’s goalball team secure the bronze medal at the European Para Youth Games in Finland.

Goalball is a fast-paced team sport for athletes with a visual impairment.

It is played by two teams of three players. The objective of the game is to score by bowling the ball along the floor into the opposing team’s goal.

Joe Roper. (13531797)
Joe Roper. (13531797)

Joe, who plays goalball for Fen Tigers and RNC Academy, and his team mates went up against some of the best teams in Europe to secure the impressive result across three days of competition.

The tournament got off to a dream start, with a series of impressive wins over Germany, Italy and Hungary to secure a spot in the semi-finals. This saw the young team come up against Germany again in the last four.

Unfortunately, GB were unable to replicate their fantastic performance against the Germans earlier in the competition and lost in a hard-fought match.

Despite the disappoint-ment of not making the final, the team refocused for the the bronze medal match against Romania. The tense game was decided by just one goal as Great Britain ended the competition on the podium with a 3-2 win.

Joe managed to find the net 24 times for Great Britain throughout the competition.

The European Paralympic Youth Games was held at the Olympic and Paralympic Training Centre in Pajulahti, Finland. It was one of the largest parasport events of the summer, with hundreds of the exceptional young athletes descending on the Nordic country.

Faye Dale, the head coach for the Great Britain under 23’s squad, said: “We’re incredibly proud to bring to the bronze medal home from the European Para Youth Games.

“For such a young team to show great maturity in their performances throughout this competition, especially to hold out for the win in the bronze medal match, was an outstanding achievement. We’re confident that these players can go far and have more success at other international tournaments.

“It’s vital for their development as elite athletes to step out of their comfort zones and test themselves against goalball players from the across continent.”

Mark Winder, CEO of Goalball UK, spoke after the tournament about how well this team is developing: “The success in these games was a result of a decision by Goalball UK two years ago to focus upon our talent pathway.

“The players were excellent on and off the court and I applaud their dedication.”

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