Ten men’s teams and six women’s teams will be competing this week in Ascoli Piceno, Italy to fight for a place within the elite of European Goalball. This includes Belgium (men) and Great Britain (women) who recently reached the quarter-finals at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Ten men’s teams and six women’s teams are heading to Ascoli Piceno in Italy this week to participate in the IBSA Goalball European “B” Championships. The tournament starts on Wednesday 24th October and finishes up on Sunday 28th October.
The ten men’s teams have been split into two equal pools based on their European rankings. Pool A features Belgium, Russia, Italy, Poland and Ukraine, while Pool B sees Hungary, Denmark, Bulgaria, Czech Republic and Israel fighting it out for the top four spots in their pool. The top four teams from each pool will move into the quarter-finals while the bottom teams in each pool will face each other for 9th/10th place - a fate that all teams will be doing their best to avoid, because these teams are assured of relegation back to the “C” division of European Goalball.
The four quarter-finals winners will be pushing hard for a podium position as these 3 nations are assured entry into next year’s IBSA Goalball European “A” Championships. The quarter-final losers will be doing everything in their power to avoid ending the tournament in 8th position, with this team also being relegated to the “C” division in Europe. The nations that end the tournament placed 4th-7th will remain a “B” nation and will have the chance again in 2014 to strive for a place in the elite “A” class.
Women’s Goalball only features an “A” and “B” division within Europe. Therefore, the 6 nations of Germany, Turkey, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary and The Netherlands will all be after a top 3 result to ensure a ticket to next years “A” Championships. The six nations will play a round robin with the first 4 teams qualifying for the semi-finals. The bottom 2 teams will play for pride in the 5th & 6th place play-off, but both of these teams will remain as “B” nations.
Belgium is one of the teams to look out for - they had a very good result in London by reaching the quarter-finals where they lost to eventual silver medalists Brazil. Another team to keep your eye on is the Czech Republic. They were a very dominating force at last year’s IBSA Goalball European “C” Championships and have had some promising results at friendly tournaments throughout 2012.
Great Britain is definitely a team to watch in the women’s tournament. They impressed many with their run to the quarter-finals in London where they lost to bronze medalists Sweden in golden goal extra-time.
Turkey will also be fighting hard to reclaim their place within the “A” division. After a disappointing end to their IBSA Goalball European “A” Championships campaign last year, one would expect to see them fighting hard this week. And, of course, there is always a degree of uncertainty involved - every Goalball tournament will feature surprise wins and losses, as well as the emergence of new and developing nations that are ready to challenge the “old guard”.
Ascoli Piceno will be no different - Let the fun begin!
Click on the link above to view or download the tournament schedule.