Blind Football Ireland is a newly formed group which seeks to provide footballing opportunities to Blind people in Ireland. The group is a collaboration between the FAI and Sports Vision Ireland.
On December 13th, the Irish B1 development squad are heading to Hereford, England to play an English development selection. They will be playing two games, giving the players a taste of their first real competitive fixture. This is the first step towards a full international squad and participating in international fixtures. The team heading to England will contain Donnacha McCarthy and Kevin Kelly both guide dog owners.
Speaking about his experience of blind football Kevin Kelly said “Words can’t describe what it means to me to play B1 football. Kicking a ball around in a serious game is something which I never thought I would do again after losing my eyesight. It feels as if I am free again to do what I love doing which is running with the ball at my feet!”
According to Donnacha McCarthy “the game is very different from the sighted game. The first major difference is the fact that you have to keep the ball so close to your feet unlike in the sighted game when you kick it in front of you. But in B1 football the idea is to tap the ball between your feet as it makes it much more difficult for the defender to take the ball off you. You also have to concentrate more in the blind game as you have to listen out for the ball before you can tackle.
“People observing the game will notice that the players communicate verbally constantly which also makes it essential for the players to think about their positioning on the field of play. I would say to any blind person come along and try it out! The sessions are organised in a relaxed fashion which makes everyone feel at home and totally comfortable. Even if you try it and it is not for you it is a great chance to meet new people.” Added Kelly
The game is open to both male and female (all ages), so if you are blind and would like to give B1 football a go you are more than welcome to our training sessions.
Training sessions have now concluded for 2013, however new sessions will be confirmed for 2014 shortly. Sessions take place in Dublin on a Saturday afternoon at Ballymun United. For more information on blind football, like our Facebook page.
Update: The Irish development squad earned a battling 0-0 draw with the English development team in December. This was a wonderful result for the teams first taste of compeditive action and more matches are organised for 2014. Make sure you visit our page regularly for any updates.