APM’s Ben Rowe and his Aussie Storm teammates have returned home from the Goalball Asia-Pacific Regional Championships after narrowly missing out qualifying for next year’s Tokyo Olympics.
Ben, a member of the APM Communities team in Western Australia, represented Australia in the tournament held in Chiba, Japan, earlier this month.
The sport is designed specifically for athletes with vision impairment and involves throwing a ball with bells attached into the opposing team’s goal.
The Aussie Storm squad finished in fifth place, with China winning the tournament and qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Ben, who at 42 is Australia’s oldest ever goalball athlete, said despite not being able to realise his dream of being an Aussie Paralympian, playing the sport has been a huge part of his life.
“Goalball is a game of strength and power but so much is mental,” Ben said.
“Focusing on the bells in the ball and reacting to 70-km throws is intense.
“It’s really the only sport for the blind that is truly made for this community. It’s amazing that sight plays no part in the sport, which means our disability is basically null-in-void.”
Working for APM Communities, when Ben isn’t playing sport he is part of a team of coordinators who work with community groups, organisations and businesses to help them better serve and increase opportunities for people with disability.
After travelling to several countries to compete in the green and gold over the past decade, Ben said he is now going to retire from the national squad and the Aussie Storm squad paid tribute to him on Facebook.
“In additional to all of this play time, Ben has played a critical role in supporting Goalball to become the sporting body it is today, having been Goalball WA President and co-founder, and served on the Goalball Australia committee for two years.
“It takes a lot of dedication and passion to wear this many hats and achieve so much as a player while doing so, and we’re so grateful he chose to join us for one last campaign before his return to retirement.
“Ben, thank you for all you’ve worked hard towards for the sport of Goalball in Australia!”