GOALBALL: Fen Tigers stars Laura and Dan receive Sport England and Sportsaid backing

Dan Roper (first right) and Laura Perry (second left) with Fen Tigers players Dom Roper, Joe Roper a

Dan Roper (first right) and Laura Perry (second left) with Fen Tigers players Dom Roper, Joe Roper and Emma Evans. - Credit: Archant

Two local goalball stars have been recognised as two of the most promising athletes in the country by Sport England and SportsAid.

Laura and Dan, who founded the Fen Tigers Club last year, are both in the starting line-ups for the national teams and have travelled around the world competing for their country.

Laura said: “It’s a huge honour to be one of just 95 young athletes from around the country to receive this support. As elite players, it is crucial for us to able to make it to club training to support and inspire the next generation of players.

“This grant means I can keep enjoying the sport I love playing and it’s something to be proud of.”

Backing The Best aims to support athletes who would face difficulties progressing through their sport’s talent development system without financial help.

Dozens of athletes, including Laura and Dan, were supported during the first year in 2016, producing world, European and national age-group level champions, and now 95 up-and-coming stars will benefit from the scheme’s second term.

Mark Winder, CEO of Goalball UK, added: “This award is a testament, not just to the talent and drive of our players, but also to the potential of Goalball to reach from a grassroots level to the Paralympic podium.

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“As a small NGB, we are delighted to have so many athletes on the programme. Though we may not operate on the same scale as some of the other sports, we are highly ambitious with participation growing 425 per cent in the past four years.

“Sport England recently recognised this rapid growth and the sport’s ability to transform the lives of visually-impaired people with £1.4 million worth funding for grassroots development.

“We’re incredibly proud that SportsAid is backing our players as they continue to perform at the highest level.”

Goalball, is a sport designed specifically for the visually impaired, with participants competing in teams of three, trying to throw a ball that has bells embedded in it into the opponents’ goal.

Teams alternate throwing or rolling the ball from one end of the playing area to the other.

For more information on the Fen Tigers, search @fentigersgball on Twitter.