Goalball’s women’s GB team have achieved a coveted spot at the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Goalball International Qualifier in America.

The competition offers a crucial opportunity for the women’s team to secure their ticket to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, with the top two nations at this competition guaranteeing their place.

Taking place from 29 June to 9 July in Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA, IBSA have invited 16 men’s and women’s teams to compete.

This achievement comes off the back of an impressive string of performances over the last 18 months. Going head-to-head with many of the world’s top goalball nations, the women’s GB team claimed a top six place at the European A Championships and a sixth places finish at the Malmö Intercup. Most recently in August, the team claimed the bronze medal at the FVDA International Female Goalball tournament in Spain.

Becky Ashworth, National Development Manager of Goalball UK, said: “We’re over the moon that the women’s team have made the cut for the IBSA International Qualifier.

“The squad has serious aspirations to be at Tokyo 2020 and this is a massive step in the right direction. They have been developing fantastically for a number of years, dedicating countless hours to reach their potential and to have the opportunity to perform at the highest level.

“The team will not rest on our laurels now as we prepare to be in the best possible form for when the tournament gets underway in June next year.”

The team’s qualification follows closely the recent announcement from Tracey Crouch, the Minister for Sport, that a £3million new Aspiration Fund is now available to sports such as goalball with ambitions to reach the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. Goalball UK currently does not receive any Government funding.

Mark Winder, Chief Executive Officer of Goalball UK, commented: “This is an exceptional opportunity to make competing at the Paralympics a realistic target for people with a visual impairment.

“Backing from the Aspiration Fund will enable us to give our elite players the support they need to take the next step. Reaching the IBSA Goalball International Qualifier is the perfect platform to achieve this dream and a testament to a sport that is moving in the right direction.”