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Goalball: The scientific planning of the Pharaohs to Paris 2024

Date: February 21, 2024

Category: Goalball

The men’s Goalball national team of Egypt was one of the last ones to get the qualification slot for Paris 2024. In the first days of December, the 2023 IBSA Goalball African Championships in Giza delivered the continental slot, a competition fully dominated by Algeria, the African champion for decades.

The last time Egypt had a Paralympic presence was in Barcelona 1992. 32 years later, the Pharaohs are back, and still fresh in everybody’s memory is the moment when the qualification was granted. December 15th, at the Hassan Moustafa Sport Complex, was the day, and a great explosion of joy took everyone present in the final match with Algeria.

Dramatic enough for the home team, the match was so balanced that at the end of the first half, Algeria was winning 2-1. In the return after halftime, Egypt scored two straight goals and got ahead, but not until the end. Algeria equalised the scorer once more, and it was only after a long ball penalty that the Egyptian team got the final advantage (4-3), which they kept until the final whistle.

The happiest man alive

“I was the happiest man alive when we qualified for Paris 2024,” started Mr. Mohamed Farahat, national head coach of the men’s Egyptian team and one of the main people responsible for the glory. “It was a dream of several generations, and we brought it to real life.”

Egypt had already defeated Algeria during the round-robin stage of the African Championship, but the final is always special. The moment of truth, so to speak. Was there any special message to the players before that final?

“What I did was tell them that we have to exert all our efforts and don’t let frustration get to them. They had to transform the past years’ pain and training into a victory. They had to stay patient for the whole duration of the match, mentally before physically. The match always ends with the referee’s end-game whistle, so you have to stay a man until the last second and defeat your opponent”.

What made the difference this time?

With Algeria’s dominance in the past decades, what made the difference this time? Mr. Farahat was clear: “Good and scientific planning since September 2021. From choosing athletes who are talented, gifted, physically well, and those who have the criteria to compete, prepare this generation by participating in international championships to gain experience.”

#Accessibility – The men’s Goalball national head coach of Egypt, Mohamed Farahat, is with his left knee on the floor and his hands in a shell position, shouting to his players on the field of play and giving instructions to the team during the final of the 2023 IBSA Goalball African Championships in Giza.

This renewal of the squad was notorious. “The new generation is composed of youth athletes chosen and trained well to be capable of giving the team what we expect for the long term and gaining international experience early by participating in international sanctioned competitions and friendly tournaments. We have athletes that can play in multiple positions and it’s one of the criteria of choosing the athletes:

* Sayed Awwad (22) has a great capability of defending and scoring as well as the capability of playing in several positions on court.
* Omar Mohamed (27) He is a great athlete! He is light in movement on court, capable of playing in several positions, and a great shooter of penalties!
* Amr Elsify (24) He is my main centre player; he is a great defender and super light, and he is also capable of playing in several positions.
* Ahmed Elsayed (22) He is a good athlete, and one of his main pros is that he is very tall and young.
* Ahmed Abdelrazek (21) He has great muscle structure and can play a centre or a back.
*Abdelaziz Helal (20) is very talented, has a great sensation on court, and can play in any position on court.”

Prepare with the bests

Egypt is already having some training camps with all the teams to prepare in the best way possible for the Paralympic Games. They have two training sessions a day for five days a week, which means around 40 training sessions a month, between technical and physical.

Besides these internal training camps, the new African champion has secured participation in several tournaments until next July, like the next Nations’ Cup in Berlin (March), Desafio International in Brazil (May), and the third Egyptian Pyramids championships (July). The final list of players for Paris will have to be announced to the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) by June 2024.

What can the world expect from the Pharaohs in Paris? “We are really hoping to get a good ranking in the Paralympic Games and prove that we are capable of competing on a large scale. We want to, at least, be one of the golden square teams, because we are not going to a picnic; we are going to fight for several wins.”

Being among the best eight teams in Goalball in the world is a good visit card for Egypt. “It’s a dream. It was a goal for me personally, which became real. Now, a new target is set: to train and prepare athletes with techniques and responsibilities, because now we have made a historical accomplishment that we will keep talking about!”

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