Game on for England at blind football championship
BLIND footballers displayed their skills during an event to showcase the ‘fantastic’ game.
Members of the England Blind Football team showed how they shoot, dribble and pass the ball during a family day at the National Football Museum, in Manchester.
The team, which is preparing for the IBSA Blind Football European Championships this summer, also gave members of the public a chance to play football blindfolded.
England’s star striker Roy Turnham, 30, said: “I just love football. I’ve played football since I was able to walk.
“For children who are blind, I would say take up a sport and just do it and give it a go.”
Blind and partiallysighted footballers play on a five-a-side pitch and have to listen for the ball, which contains ballbearings and makes a noise.
Supporters sit quietly during the game but can still cheer when players score a goal.
The sport is growing in popularity and became more well-known during the London 2012 Paralympics.
If England get into the final of the European Championships, which are being held at the Royal National College for the Blind in Hereford this summer, they will win a place at the Rio 2016 Paralympics.
Former England player David Clarke, who has 114 caps and scored 128 goals for his country, represented England at five World Cups before he recently retired from the game.
He said: “I played football for 17 years, but only in the last couple of years has it really taken off.
“It’s a fantastic game. Children know more than anyone about disability sport and we need to show schools that football really is a sport for everybody.”
The players are hopeful they could win the championships but face tough competition from teams including France and Turkey. The players showed off their skills during the museum’s Football For All Discovery Day on Friday.
Manchester Blind Football Club, whose members train in Harpurhey, is looking for blind and visually impaired players and also needs coaches to train them.
Ruth Walmsley, from the club, said: “Football is a great way for children and adults who are blind – both men and women – to build up their confidence and meet people.”
Anyone who wants to find out about the club can call 07780 466410.