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My Eye-Opening Experience With 5-A-Side Blind Football!

December 4, 2012

This is a guest post by Richard Willow.

Like most Sunday league footballers, I fancy myself as an elegant player. I like to regale uninterested family members with tales of glorious goals and breathtaking dribbles. “If it wasn’t for my dodgy knee, I could have gone professional,” I tell them (not strictly true, I admit, but I have repeated the statement so many times, I’ve almost convinced myself as to its accuracy!). When I watch Premier League footballers on the television, I like to enlighten my friends (or anyone who’d listen) as to where these professional prima donnas are going wrong and how they can improve their sub-standard skills. So when I was offered the chance to play 5-a-side blind football, I thought to myself “How hard can it be?”

Blind football is a relatively new event in the Paralympics. Played on a small 5-a-side pitch, each outfield player must wear blindfolds with the goalkeeper being the only person in the team who is not visually impaired. The balls used in 5-a-side blind football are heavier than normal and contain ball bearings. The sound made by the ball bearings informs the players as to where the ball is and it is therefore vital that the game be played in complete silence. In addition to the rattling of the ball-bearings, the only other sounds you hear are instructions from the sighted goalkeepers. Communication is key in 5-a-side blind football, and the effectiveness of the goalkeeper’s instructions can often mean the difference between victory and defeat.

As I first donned the blindfold and stepped out on to the pitch, the first sensation was one of complete disorientation. Leaving aside kicking the ball, my initial aim was to run without stumbling or falling over. Bereft of sight, I had absolutely no confidence in any movement. When the ball did come near me, it would often bounce of my shins and roll away. After ten minutes of staggering around the pitch like a drunk, I – for the first time in my amateur football career – volunteered to be taken off.

As I continued to watch the game, I grew increasingly amazed at the level of skill involved. I watched blind players fly around the pitch with speed and dexterity showing little sign of being hindered by their disability. Displaying deft touches and astonishing dribbling skills, the players showed fantastic close control and some surprisingly accurate and powerful shooting. For those who have tried blind football, the ability of the players is all the more impressive. Whereas the skill of professional players can be understood and identified with by many, the skill of blind footballers is truly hard to comprehend. How do they control the ball so neatly? How do they pick out accurate passes and shots? How do they run with the ball with perfect balance? Even professional footballers have complimented the skill and dedication of blind footballers. David Beckham – who participated in blind football with British Paralympics team – has also described his amazement at the level of skill and concentration on show.

In an ideal world, blind footballers would receive the same attention as regular footballers. The level of skill and dedication is no different from the regular game, in fact, it is a great deal more difficult. For those who get the chance, I would recommend giving it a go. It is only once you have experienced the game that you fully appreciate the surprising level of skill and talent on show. What isn’t quite as surprising is the nation which is currently the champion in the sport……..Brazil!

Author Bio: Richard Willow is the founder of Willow Mobility, a company that offers solutions for people who have difficulty with mobility and movement. Having worked with people with an array of disabilities, Richard often writes about his experiences and offers practical advice based on decades of experience.

 

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jim permalink
    December 10, 2012 1:15 pm

    i hope you had a great time, i also watched a cricket and i must it was amazing. thanks for sharing your experience with us.

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  1. Blind soccer is a pretty new occasion in the Paralympics. | View My Interesting List Of Webpages | Scoop.it

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