Today the schedule for the 2014 IBSA Goalball World Championships was released. The tournament will feature 102 top quality matches starting on Monday 30 June. Quarter finals are scheduled for Friday 4 July and semi-finals and finals will be played on Saturday 5 July.
Match one is between the men of USA and Spain. Paco Monreal, Spanish coach, made the following comment with a smile on his face:
“The organisers want a great opening and put us in the first game.”
This comment may had been made tongue in cheek and the organisers couldn’t had planned how the draw fell, but one thing is correct from Monreal’s comment, they and the USA is a great way to kick off the tournament. Smiles and jokes aside, Monreal feels it’s the style of play that these teams share that will lead to it being a great game:
“As far as I know the US team, I think will be a game between two of the most attractive teams. Both are young and have a dynamic style of play, based in a strong defense but don't forget the offensive. Maybe we don't score as much as other teams most powerful, but we have the patience to wait and find the hole in the opposite team.”
The tournament will be played in two halls. While USA and Spain are getting things started in sport hall Tapiola, Belgium and Brazil men will kick off the tournament in sport hall Summa.
The last time that these two teams met was during the quarter final at the 2012 London Paralympic Games. It was a tight and tense match but the Brazilians came out on top then. This means that the Belgians know what lies ahead of them:
“We will need to be at our best to start the tournament” said team member Tom Vanhove.
Neither of the male or female host nation teams have an easy start. The Finnish men start against their current bogie team, Czech Republic. These teams have met many times recently and the one nation keeps on coming out on top, Czech Republic.
Erkki Miinala of the Finnish team explained that they hope that the home advantage will get them over the line on 30 June:
“Very hard first match, but there is not any easy match in our pool. Czech has been very difficult opponent to us last years, but I think, that we will find a way to beat them on our home venue.”
The Finnish women don’t have it much easier. They will face off against Turkey in their first match. Finland recently lost a very close match to them at the 2013 IBSA Goalball European Championships A in the semi-final. This experience has led to them having a great deal of respect for their first opponent as explained by player Kaisu Hynninen:
"Turkey is talented and young team full of potential to achieve great result during becoming years. Our best weapons against Turkey will be our experience and strong defense. It will be a match full of energy.”
The two opening women’s matches will both feature the gold and silver medalists from the Paralympic Games. Both Japan and China have a similar task, young and determined teams. While Japan meets Germany in sport hall Tapiola, China will meet Israel.
The Israelis know what they will be facing and how they are best to try and defeat the defending world champions:
“We know that they have Avery good and stable defense but we should keep on our defense for the beginning of the game” explained Coach Raz Shoham.
Only 146 days still lie between now and all these matches taking place. If today’s schedule release has told us anything, it is that we can look forward to a fantastic day one of competition in a bit under 150 days.
If you wish to see the full schedule, please visit https://www.goalball2014.fi/index.php?page=schedule