Burnley Goalball star Meme is on the brink of Tokyo 2020 qualification

Burnley's Meme Robertson
Burnley's Meme Robertson

Good fortune brought Meme Robertson into Great Britain’s goalball squad but now the 16-year-old is just one tournament away from Paralympic qualification.

The Burnley athlete and the GB squad headed to Germany this week to begin a European Championship campaign that could see them reach Tokyo 2020.

Achieve that aim and a special 2019 would be complete for Robertson – who only broke into the senior set up at the start of the year after impressing in her country’s youth set-up.

“I can’t wait for the Euros, I am really excited to get going,” said Robertson, who studies at the Royal National College for the Blind (RNC)

“They are really important for us and we need to qualify.

“Some players were unfortunately injured at the start of the year and I was brought into the senior team and I’ve played a lot.

“I did quite well as I scored in the last few minutes of games and then went to the World Championships in the US.”

Having already played for three years, a switch to the RNC last month has given Robertson a new appreciation for goalball, training four times a week alongside her A-Level studies.

The move to Hereford has also stopped her needing to travel over an hour from her Burnley home to Manchester each week to play the sport.

And already the impact of relocating has been evident, with Robertson having one of the biggest impacts on the squad despite being the youngest in the group.

She said: “I enjoy being the youngest, the next oldest is 18. I like to bring happiness and silliness to the team.

“I love making everyone laugh and being the joker.”

But with Paralympic qualification on the line – and a European title to strive for – the laughing and joking is set to stop for the talented teenager, at least for the time being.

Britain’s first game of the competition will see them face Turkey, before matches with Germany, Netherlands and Israel determine whether a knockout place is in the offing.

GB coach Aaron Ford said: “We’ve done what we can, and the girls are all in good spirits and really looking forward to it.

“The preparations have been good, and we are ready to go and see what we can do and hopefully secure qualification for Tokyo.”

l Sainsbury’s is the longest-standing supporter of ParalympicsGB and a champion of inclusive sport for all. Sainsbury’s commitment to helping customers live well for less has been at the heart of what we do since 1869. For more information on Sainsbury’s commitment to inclusive sport visit https://www.about.sainsburys.co.uk.