Brittany’s goal is the Rio Games

Brittany Stead (16) who is visually impaired and has got into the Team GB Goal-ball team. (D525A341)
Brittany Stead (16) who is visually impaired and has got into the Team GB Goal-ball team. (D525A341)

A teenager is aiming for a place in the Rio Paralympic Games after being selected to represent Great Britain in goal-ball.

Sixteen-year-old Brittany Stead, of Spen Lane, Gomersal, is currently in Hungary competing in a friendly tournament, and in November will take part in the European A Championships in Turkey.

The former Spen Valley Sports College pupil is visually impaired and took up the sport at the suggestion of her mobility officer Stuart Adams who is a goal-ball coach at Moorend School in Huddersfield.

“I have to admit I wasn’t keen at first but he encouraged me to go back,” she said.

“Spen Valley Sports College arranged for me to go once a term and I really started getting into it.

“In Year 10 I started playing every week and took part in domestic tournaments, going from novice to intermediate. I then went to a Talent ID event in Birmingham and from that I was invited to train with Team GB.
“I’m over the moon to be selected for my country and my ultimate goal is Rio 2016.”

All goal-ball players are blind-folded and the ball itself has a bell.

“It’s all about hearing and feeling,” Brittany explained.

“You have to roll the ball to each side of the court to score a goal, and it can reach speeds of 60mph so it’s quite tough. It can get quite technical too with bounce and swerve shots and you have to lay down and defend them. It’s very physically demanding but I love it!”

Since being selected for the team she has already competed in Poland and Sweden and is now looking forward to Turkey.

Her coach Jackie Sheldon said: “I’ve been working with Brittany since May when she was identified as someone with talent, and she has rapidly improved to the point where she has earned a place in the GB team.

“The Hungary event will be a good benchmark of where we are, and Turkey will be a great milestone towards qualification for Rio 2016.

“Brittany has a great attitude and she’s doing everything she is asked and it’s paying dividends. She is a real role model.”

Brittany’s mum Hayley said: “We are extremely proud of her. When we got the phone call to say she’d been selected we were absolutely flabbergasted.

“Her goal is now Rio and she’s determined to do everything she can to get there.”

Brittany, who is now at Greenhead College in Huddersfield, hopes to become a social worker.

She is a previous Reporter Series Champion Child winner after being nominated by her teacher at Spen Valley.