Goalball: Great Britain’s Dan Roper seeking European success after injury
Date: December 8, 2023
Great Britain’s Goalball athlete Dan Roper makes selection for 2023 IBSA Goalball European Championships – Division A after injury sustained at the 2023 IBSA World Games cast doubt over his appearance.
During that competition Dan suffered a fracture to his fibular which put his position as a starting line-up player at the Euros in doubt. He has fought back from injury to be selected for IBSA’s European Championships to be held in Montenegro in December – the final chance to secure instant qualification at Paris 2024 for the squad.
“Recovery has been better than expected. Initially I wasn’t sure if I would make selection and the thought of not playing at the Euros was really disappointing. This spurred me on to do everything I could to rehabilitate myself in the hope of making the squad.
“The Euros are important to me as I was there in 2017 playing for GB Men and it’s the first time since our promotion to the A division that we’ll play the Euro As once more. I’ve played for GB for ten years as a starting line-up player and the thought of missing out ignited a fire in me to do everything I could to recover well,” said Dan.
As an elite athlete, Dan’s normally training several times a week with throwing sessions, strength and conditioning, cardio, goalball club sessions and GB training camps. Going from this to nothing was obviously a huge step back in activity for the athlete.
Having got the all-clear to return to training, Dan says “I had to work hard to return strength to my leg muscles, they had suffered a lot of wastage during my downtime. When I returned to GB camp I only played one game the first day, and a game and a half the second. Thankfully my hard work and rest paid off and the ankle felt good!”
Dan credits his achievements in goalball to his determination and hard work. As a regular top goalscorer Dan says “I never give up. Even when the game is down and out there may still be a goal to score. During the SEGL (Saltinis & European Goalball Club Association Champions League) I scored the last goal with the last shot in the last game against Finland. I was level with another player to win top goalscorer but was determined to get that one goal.”
Dan’s sporting story almost didn’t happen. Diagnosed with a congenital eye condition aged five, Dan only had one friend growing up. In his own words he admits he was “very isolated and never went out anywhere that could be dark, not the pub or clubs or anywhere”.
At 21 Dan joined RNC (Royal National College for the Blind) where goalball was on the activity schedule. At that point Dan didn’t even know a person like him could play sport, or that there were sports adapted or designed for him.
When quizzed about how he sees goalball progressing as a sport in the future, Dan is full of excitement and ideas “Inclusivity has to be the biggest aim for the sport. Goalball is badly publicised and even the name goalball is a bit confusing to people. Everyone thinks it’s blind football. I think it should be called Blindball then it’s clear to people from the start” enthused Dan.
“Goalball should be included in every school and should have a tagline such as ‘test your senses’ as it really does”.