Pictured: Antonia playing at the European Championships 2021 in Samsun, Turkey
Megan, who is studying the Level 3 Sports Coaching course at the College, said:
‘I’m really thrilled to be representing my country once again at a major competition and looking forward to meeting up with the team. This competition is one I’m really excited about as we have a chance to qualify for Paris 2024, which will be tough, but we have the talent in the squad to be able to do so. I hope to contribute to the team and inspire the next generation of female Goalballers.’
Antonia is a former RNC student, who now teachers on the College’s Massage and Complementary Therapies course. She spoke of her excitement of being selected for the national squad, adding:
'I am incredibly honoured to be selected for the team and represent my country at the highest level of competition. I’m really proud to be a part of this team and I’m determined to give it my all.’
Antonia and Megan will join a strong GB women’s squad that also features former RNC students Meme Robertson and Lois Turner, highlighting the College's exceptional track record of producing elite athletes.
Aaron Ford, the Women’s Head Coach (and Teacher in Charge of Sport at RNC), said:
‘As a squad we are excited to attend the European Championships and keen to build on the performances and results at the recent World Games in Birmingham, where we demonstrated an ability to compete with some of the best teams in the world. The competition is a final opportunity to qualify for Paris 2024 and I have no doubt that all athletes will give everything for the team in an attempt to qualify for the Games. One game and one performance at a time, we will try and give those watching at home plenty to cheer about.’
The men's GB squad also boasts a significant number of ex-RNC students (Chris Colbert, Josh Murphy, Caleb Nanevie, Dan Roper and Joe Roper), further demonstrating the College's partnership with sporting organisations, such as Goalball UK and TASS, and its commitment to nurturing sporting excellence at its campus in Hereford.
The IBSA Goalball European Championships will serve as the final qualifying event for the Paralympic Games in Paris 2024, making it a crucial competition for both teams.
RNC is dedicated to providing its students with the resources, support, and opportunities necessary to excel in their chosen fields, including sports. The College's state-of-the-art facilities, expert coaching, and inclusive environment have cultivated a vibrant sporting culture, producing numerous elite athletes who have achieved remarkable international success.
The RNC community will be supporting Antonia, Megan, and the entire GB squad, and we wish them good luck as they put in the performance of their lives to qualify for Paris.
Pictured L-R: Antonia Bunyan (Player), Aaron Ford (Head Coach) and Megan Smithson-Booth (Player)
You can follow all of the action on IBSA’s YouTube channel and on Goalball UK’s social media platforms.
The group stage fixtures are as follows:
10 December 15:30 GBW v Turkey
11 December 13:00 GBW v Germany
12 December 08:00 GBW v Ukraine
10 December 13:00 GBM v Lithuania
11 December 14:15 GBM v Belgium
12 December 10:30 GBM v Germany
13 December 11:45 GBM v Greece