Blind (England football) team raising profile and opening some eyes


New Member
I found this story when I was searching for the story on the injured soldiers and the Paralympics. Yet another "wow!" story for me.

EVEN if it all goes horribly wrong in Germany next summer, England could still win the World Cup. The true potential of Sven-Göran Eriksson’s team may be a matter for debate, but there is no question that another group of men who wear the Three Lions are among the top players on the planet.

England’s blind football team are ranked No 2 in Europe and No 4 in the world, despite scraping by on a fraction of the resources available to other nations. They take on their biggest rivals, Spain, in the semi-finals of the European Championships this evening in Torremolinos, where British holidaymakers and expatriates will help to swell a crowd that could number more than a thousand people.

“I played 15 years in professional football. I look at the skill level of some of our players and think, God, if they’d had sight they might have made it in the professional game,” Tony Larkin, the manager, said. His players will never have the thrill of seeing the ball hit the back of the net. “But I tell them, I’m really jealous — I never played for England.”

“We need to build the pool of players and put pressure on the current squad,” he said. There are about 100 teams in Brazil, who are the world champions, [Edit: wow!!!] while Spain have a full-time manager and six regional leagues. Games are five-a-side. Teams comprise of four blind players and a sighted goalkeeper, who, along with the coach and a guide behind the opposition’s goal, offers verbal advice. The rattle of ball bearings inside the ball also helps the players, so a noisy crowd is a disadvantage. Each half lasts 25 minutes.


“It’s common to imagine people bumping around, but it couldn’t be farther from the truth,” Clarke said. “There’s athleticism, speed, skill. When I hit the ball, it stays hit. You develop spatial awareness: if you were to walk into a room, you’d have an awareness of the size of that room.

“Positional play is all about communication. You have a real understanding of where the players are. There’s a lot of passing and running with the ball. First touch is very important. One of the guys from a TV crew said the other day that he forgot he was watching blind football. There’s no higher accolade.,,27-1898436,00.html

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