Game on for Eng­land at blind foot­ball cham­pi­onship

Wilmslow Express - - NEWS -

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.

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