GOALBALL: March’s Joe Roper proves impressive for Great Britain at European Para Youth Games

Joe Roper after winning bronze at the European Para Youth Games in Finland. Picture: OLIVER LEWIS

Joe Roper after winning bronze at the European Para Youth Games in Finland. Picture: OLIVER LEWIS - Credit: Archant

A March goalball star helped Great Britain to success at the European Para Youth Games in Finland recently.

Joe Roper played a key role in securing a bronze medal for the under 23 team and became the side's top scorer throughout the three-day competition, scoring an impressive 24 times at the Olympic and Paralympic Training Centre in Pajulahti.

Joe, who plays for Fen Tigers Goalball Club and the Royal National College for the Blind Academy, and his teammates came up against some of the best teams in Europe, beating stern opponents on their path to the last four.

Wins over Germany, Italy and Hungary confirmed their progress, earning them a semi-final date with the Germans in the process.

But despite finishing on the wrong end of a hard-fought contest, a tense game in the third-place decider ended with Great Britain narrowly defeating Romania 3-2 to finish on the podium.

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Faye Dale, head coach for the Great Britain under 23's squad, said: "We're incredibly proud to bring to the bronze medal home.

"For such a young team to show great maturity in their performances throughout this competition, especially to hold out for the win in the bronze medal match, was an outstanding achievement.

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"We're confident that these players can go far and have more success at other international tournaments.

"It's vital for their development as elite athletes to step out of their comfort zones and test themselves against goalball players from the across continent."

Mark Winder, CEO of Goalball UK, added: "The players were excellent on and off the court and I applaud their dedication, application and attitude.

"This result demonstrates that we have a bright future in the sport and if funding allows our players to continue to develop, we can be competitive against the best teams at senior level in the Paralympics in Paris and Los Angeles."

Goalball is a fast-paced team sport for athletes with a visual impairment.

It is played by two teams of three players, with the objective to score by bowling the ball along the floor into the opposing team's goal.

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