The head coaches of the USA goalball national teams have named the men’s and women’s rosters for the 2018 International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Goalball World Championships taking place in Malmo, Sweden, from 3-8 June.
The tournament will serve as Team USA’s first opportunity to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
In 2014, both teams earned places on the podium – gold for the women and bronze for the men - to qualify for Rio 2016.
The men went onto claim silver and the women bronze at the Paralympics. Eight of the athletes who helped earn those medals will be playing on the court this summer in Sweden.
Both teams have new names on their rosters – Grej Pesjaka, Josh Welborn and Calahan Young will represent the USA men for the first time at a World Championships. Bryanna Stubbert will also make her debut for the women’s team.
“We’re proud of the strength and depth of our goalball program here in the US,” said Matthew Boyle, USA Men’s Head Coach. “We’ve turned over 50 per cent of our men’s team since Rio, which was less than two years ago. Worlds will serve as several players’ first experience in a big international event. We couldn’t be more excited.”
“I’m very excited about the team we are taking to Sweden,” said Jake Czechowski, USA Women’s Head Coach. “Our training has been outstanding and the team will be ready to go. I have no doubt that this will be the most competitive event our team has ever attended and am confident we will rise to the occasion. We are going to be very difficult to beat.”
Sixteen men’s teams and 12 women’s teams will compete at the World Championships. Each division has been divided in half to create two pools of teams in each division. In January, countries were drawn by the Local Organising Committee for each of the pools.
The men will enter round robin play in group B which also includes Brazil, Canada, Germany, Iran, Egypt, Czech Republic and Japan. The women will compete against China, Algeria, Canada, Greece and Brazil in group D.
Round robin play begins 3 June at the Baltiska Hallen in Malmo. On 7 June, teams progress to quarter finals and will then compete in semi-finals and finals on 8 June.
Teams finishing on the podium in both the men’s and women’s division in Malmo will qualify for Tokyo 2020. Japan has an automatic qualification as host nation.
The 2018 IBSA Goalball World Championships take place between 3-8 June. Featuring 28 men’s and women’s teams, it is the most important competition on the road to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.