- Date: 10-12-2018
- Related to: Goalball
The newly formed European Goalball Club Association (EGCA) and its President Erkki Miinala have urged goalball clubs from across Europe to get involved in their activities as they aim to develop club goalball across the region.
Previously the Super European Goalball League (SEGL) Forum filled this role along with the G-4 group. However the EGCA, formed earlier in 2018, have been given the green light by teams to be the “voice of the clubs” according to Miinala.
The Super European Goalball League – the competition which has attracted 16 teams for 2018/19 – will be the cornerstone of the new plan. The league has introduced a new structure featuring two divisions – SEGL North and SEGL South which got underway in Rostock, Germany, and Espoo, Finland, respectively in November. Entry fees are capped and the locations are chosen based on how close they are to the participating clubs.
Representatives from the sport’s global governing body, International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Goalball, have met with members of SEGL and attended competitions, agreeing to work with them and endorse their activities.
The EGCA will represent the clubs, hoping to bring more of them together to share knowledge and ideas about partnerships and sponsors and raising awareness within local communities.
The organisation wants to make goalball accessible to more clubs and help them to be recognised as the direct link to their community and its supporters.
“You do your everyday work in your club so that is why it is important to play for that club as well. You can do more things than in the national team. [In the club] you can develop yourself and different things. You have a very big heart for your club and you would like to compete for it, like in football,” Miinala said.
Speaking about SEGL, Miinala went onto say that they have big plans for the coming years: “In the future we are planning to make more divisions, which will help still more clubs, which are not so wealthy financially, but have big passion to develop its own organisation and operation. SEGL is going through big changes now, and I encourage from the bottom of my heart goalball clubs around Europe to come along to be part of new SEGL. We are stronger together and a lot of new doors can be opened, if we are brave and ready to put some investment for the future.
“I hope, that SEGL will be an attractive shop window for goalball clubs in Europe in the future and it would help goalball clubs to develop and work more professionally in every sector.”
Players are also keen for club goalball to develop.
Speaking after the first stage of the SEGL, Konrad Andrzejuk of Russian team Podmoskovie said: “All the main team sports have some kind of European leagues so it is important to develop the club goalball. Club goalball is still at its early stage and the results are surprising. Two Finnish teams [Aisti sport and Old power] at the top three [of the SEGL in Espoo] is unusual and not very good performance of the Lithuanian Šaltinis just shows that clubs are totally different than national teams. It is important to develop such activities.”
The second stage of SEGL South will take place in Prague, Czech Republic, from 15 February. SEGL North will continue in Malmo, Sweden, on 21 February.