‘It’s really going to happen!’ Halme excited for Euros B
Date: May 30, 2021
Finland’s Susanna Halme has described her excitement for her home 2021 International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Goalball European Championships B in Lahti, which will mark the return of international goalball.
The Finnish women will go for promotion to the A Pool from 3-6 June alongside five other teams.
Halme says that, as well as competing at home, the competition has an added appeal this year:
“It’s really exciting to think that we will be really playing again, and I still feel confident and happy, but I notice I am a bit more excited than I would normally be before a competition because I’m thinking: ‘oh it’s really going to happen!’”
The 24-year-old has been playing for the national team since 2014. As one of the most experienced members of the team she is content with the team’s preparations, despite an unconventional build-up. Finland have been able to hold training camps once a month with a few cancellations, but their weekly sessions have been disrupted somewhat. Not everyone has been able to attend because of travel restrictions.
Despite this the team have just completed their last camp ahead of Lahti 2021.
“It was really great,” Halme said. “We focused on how we play as a team, how we attack and defend. You could see how every player has trained individually and together and you can see the results. I think it went very well.”
“I’m also doing my own individual training. At this point it isn’t so hard, the hardest work has been done already. As a team and individually I am preparing my mind and body for the competition.”
Halme also spoke of the anticipation to see where other teams are at:
“It’s a different situation because everyone has been in this strange situation so you can’t know which teams have trained a lot or not. It can be a bit different than normally when you know the teams and players but now there is the surprise element of COVID. Many of those teams, almost all of them, have had the same long break. So everyone is coming back and I guess everyone feels as excited as I do.”
Halme believes that Finland’s strength is in their diversity and flexibility. All of their players can play in any defensive or attacking any position. It is because of this that she thinks Finland can achieve promotion to the top tier next month – and stay there.
That would mean a place at the 2022 IBSA Goalball World Championships in Hangzhou, China, and the chance to qualify for the next Paralympic Games.
“I really believe – and that’s our goal to get back to the A – that we can and I think once we have reached this goal we will start to work on our next goal which is staying up.
“We have a long term plan and what we all think in our minds about is Paris 2024. But that’s a really long term thing and as a team and I personally like to think step by step. That’s something in our minds – the Paralympics and maybe that gives the motivation but we go step by step. We now focus on the Euros B and then after that when we are hopefully in the A then we have our full focus on how to stay there and then step-by-step to the Worlds and qualifiers or whatever is coming.”
To achieve all of this, Finland need the support of their home fans. Halme believes that even though they cannot watch the games in person at the Pajulahti Olympic and Paralympic Training Centre, their support is still vital.
“Of course we are sad that you fans can’t come as a live audience and we would have loved it if you were there and cheering us,” Halme said, speaking directly to her team’s supporters. “I hope you can still stay online and support us. We are in our home venue and it is a chance for us and part of it is the home audience. The Finnish goalball fans are really important because the home audience make it what it is.”
The 2021 IBSA Goalball European Championships B will be shown live at the IBSA Goalball website. In addition to Finland, Denmark, France, Poland, Hungary and Spain will compete for promotion in the women’s competition.