By Alison Thompson | For IBSA
On Tuesday (2 July) Canadian women’s coach Trent Farebrother and his team will begin their quest of qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics at the 2019 International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Goalball and Judo International Qualifier in Fort Wayne, USA.
The Canadian women have a long and strong history at the Paralympics. They have five podium finishes including two gold medals from Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004.
“We are focused on a top two finish [in Fort Wayne] and know that there will be no easy game and we will have to be ready for all our opponents,” Farebrother said.
Canada head to the US after a successful 2018 but by Farebrother’s own admission last year was also a bit disappointing, despite coming fourth overall at the IBSA Goalball World Championships in Malmo, Sweden.
“The team expectation was top five but it was a little disappointing coming so close to qualifying for Tokyo. As a team, overall, we were pleased with our performance and realise how close we were to qualifying; this has motivated them going forward.
“There is no easy game at a World Championships. It’s never over until it’s over and at our level, we have to be able to put together a full game to come out with the win. The quality of the women’s game has improved considerably over the past decade and will continue to do so.”
That motivation means that the team is stronger than ever and have been training hard, together and individually. Training weekends and practice with their local teams, as well as the few days together ahead of the start of Fort Wayne 2019, will all mean they are as prepared as possible.
So, it is game on for the Canadian women.
“One of the challenges is managing their intensity in competition,” Farebrother said. “Competitive sport teaches a variety of life skills, such as communication, focus and physical well-being and my players enjoy the competitive experience as well as the social interactions.
Farebrother admits that the team’s strongest opponents at Fort Wayne will be hosts and Rio 2016 bronze medallists the USA and lsrael.
But Canada are ready to face their opponents and have a few tricks up their sleeves to give them their best chance.
“We have a strong offensive player in Emma Reinke who scored an impressive 24 goals at last year’s Championships and we also have the addition at the back of Amy Burk.”
This means the team have a balanced offensive attack from all positions and that they are able to throw a variety of shots at their opponents. “This is complimented by a strong defence,” Farebrother said proudly.
And so, the months of preparation and training come to fruition in just a few days but it is clear that the women’s team is raring to go:
“We have been planning for next year’s Paralympics since Rio 2016 and have built our team to be a medal contender in 2020.”
The 2019 IBSA Goalball and Judo International Qualifier will run from 2-9 July in three venues across the city of Fort Wayne. Thirteen women’s and 14 men’s teams will take to the courts hoping to secure qualification for Tokyo 2020.
The competition will be shown live at IBSA Goalball’s Facebook page and IBSA’s YouTube channel. Match schedules are available at the official competition website.