The GB team standing together on court before the match opposite the Israel men's team.Back from Israel and looking forward to Finland – GB men’s journey to the European B’s

We caught up with Faye Dale, the GB Men’s Head Coach on her return along with the GB Men’s team from their pre-European B Championship venture to Israel. In what must have felt like a lifetime for the team in returning to international competition, it is clear the team are in high spirits as they prepare for the European B Championships that are just around the corner! Here is what Faye had to say:

“Well, we’re back – and most importantly all in one piece! For those that don’t know, last weekend we had the brilliant opportunity to travel abroad with the men’s Great Britain squad for the first time since the Pajulahti Games in January 2020.

We were fortunate to be invited to a pre-European B tournament over in Israel with their national team and Greece. And for our first experience travelling overseas in the COVID-19 world we now live in it was certainly a valuable learning experience. But experiencing it together as a squad has been a brilliant exercise to create an even bigger bond in the camp.

From mountains of paperwork, to social distancing and compulsory testing, it was a lot to take in, but with everyone’s support we worked together to make sure the travelling and competition ran smoothly. More broadly speaking, it also was important to get to grips with the new levels of essential preparations as we look forward to the rapidly approaching European B’s in Finland this June.

Great Britain team talk on court with Faye and Alex.
I must say a massive thank you to Israel for taking the time to put on such a brilliant event when coming under such pressure from COVID-19.  It has been a long time since we have competed internationally and we are at a point with our development as a team where this level of competition is vital.  Our players feed off playing top teams, and that is exactly what we came up against.

Each player has contributed hugely to this tournament being successful, it has been fantastic to see people grow in confidence and ability on and off court. The always reliable Dan Roper has certainly not lost his scoring touch, finding the back of the net a remarkable 38 times. And I continue to be blown away by Stuart Hudson, the youngest member of our squad, who is realising his incredible potential. We also have Joe Roper showing his class as a leader and rising to the challenge of senior international goalball.

There were a huge number of unknowns as we headed to Israel, but we were confident and I knew the players trained hard during each lockdown – they truly surpassed my expectations.

Joe Roper saving the ball in the centre position.

As we reflect on the last 16 months, when we have only got together a handful of times, I can really sense a reinvigorated desire from each member to play their best goalball. Sometimes you forget how special something is until it is taken away, and in this instance, the lockdowns have certainly made us stronger as individuals and refocused our ambitions as a squad.

From a coaching perspective, I have utilised this time away from the court to stop and reassess where we are and what we are doing. As a coach you are going 100 miles an hour and don’t often have time to reflect. But the last year has allowed me to spend more time developing new areas of the programme and our tactics, as well as assisting the players to be the best they can be.

Now, the hard work on and off the court continues as we are full steam ahead to Finland and the European B’s!

We are all so proud of both our GB team’s for their dedication to goalball and each other throughout the past year. Let’s go GB!!