Coventry has been announced as one of the host cities alongside Birmingham for the world’s largest sporting event for blind and partially sighted people this summer.
The 2023 IBSA World Games is taking place in the UK for the first time between Friday, August 18 and Sunday, August 27 – with Coventry Building Society Arena set to host men’s and women’s goalball in the venue’s Indoor Arena between Sunday, August 20 and Sunday, August 27.
Goalball was created especially for blind and partially sighted athletes and is one of 10 sports at the World Games, which will see male and female goalball athletes competing for qualification for the 2024 Paralympics being held in Paris, alongside judo and men’s blind football.
Goalball sees players attempt to score goals by quickly and precisely firing a 1.25kg ball across the court and defending shots from the opposing team using their bodies.
Games are split into two 12-minute halves and are played on a court measuring 18m x 9m wide with two teams made up of three players each, and goals spanning the width of each nine-metre court end.
The majority of sports at the 2023 IBSA World Games, which is supported by lead sponsor RNIB, are being held across the University of Birmingham’s Edgbaston campus, as well as other nearby regional venues.
The World Games will see around 1,250 blind and partially sighted athletes from 70 countries competing in other sports including archery, chess, men’s and women’s cricket, powerlifting, ten pin bowling, tennis, and showdown.
The UK is hosting the seventh edition of the World Games – which is held every four years – following a successful joint bid between British Blind Sport, Birmingham City Council, Sport Birmingham, UK Sport, and the University of Birmingham.
Alaina MacGregor is Chief Executive Officer at British Blind Sport, the national disability sport organisation representing blind and partially sighted people in sport across Great Britain, and is the host federation for this year’s World Games.
Alaina said: “The 2023 IBSA World Games will not only highlight to the world the talents of blind and partially sighted athletes, but is a golden opportunity to inspire other blind and partially sighted people to have a go at a sport too and reinforce that sport is accessible to everybody.
“Goalball, like all the other sports, has a key role to play in helping us to achieve this, and we are delighted to be expanding the presence of the World Games beyond Birmingham by bringing goalball to Coventry.”
Mark Winder, Chief Executive Officer at Goalball UK, added: “We are delighted to have secured a location for goalball at the World Games that works well for this unique Paralympic sport.
“Our GB squads are already deep in preparation for the Games and what promises to be a fantastic showcase of High-Performance VI sport right here in the UK.
“We hope it will also springboard the sport into the area and would love to use the opportunity to grow the sport.”
Paul Michael, Commercial Director at Coventry Building Society Arena, said: “This is the first time we have welcomed goalball to the venue – underlining our credentials as one of the UK’s leading multi-purpose sports venues following the success of hosting wrestling and judo at last year’s Commonwealth Games and the Billie Jean King Cup this year.
“We can’t wait to welcome all of the players and coaches this summer for a memorable summer of sport.”
Andy Williams, Director of Business, Investment and Culture at Coventry City Council, added: “Over recent years, Coventry has been hosting more and more sporting events and we are delighted to be a host city for the IBSA World Games.
“From International Children’s Games to the British Transplant Games, we have a strong track record of bringing these fantastic events to our inclusive city. This is a unique opportunity to watch talented athletes compete in goalball and I look forward to seeing the event in action.”
For more information about the 2023 IBSA World Games visit www.IBSAGames2023.co.uk