At last month’s Blind Football European Championships in Berlin, the Italian National Team (run by FISPIC
) gave two talented teenagers the chance to create history.
Paul Iyobo (age 15
) and Francesco Cavallotto (age 17
) both play for A.C. Crema 1908 and were called into the Italian side after strong performances for their club and for their country in a friendly against Russia in March. The pair were the youngest players in the Italian team and the European Championships.
In summer 2015, the Italian wonder kids were in Hamburg for the IBSA Blind Football European Youth Camp
with players and coaches from all over the continent. Both Paul and Francesco believe that the Youth Camp supported their development in reaching the European Championships:
Francesco: “The camp was very good because there were so many young players together and involved. Four or five of the players, including me are here in Berlin at this competition. It has helped us get to here.”
Paul: “I learned a lot more about techniques and tactics from the coaches. Now I am here in Berlin because I took that I learnt everything from Hamburg and trained a lot over the past two years.”
“I love football because when I am on the pitch I am free” – Paul Iyobo (left)
Paul set the Lilli-Henoch Sportplatz alight with his sensational dribbling and fired four goals past the Romania goal to confirm a win for Italy’s second match of the Championship.
“It was nice to score four goals. We were relaxing because there was not a lot of pressure from Romania, so we could play well”
Despite suffering defeats against challenging opposition in the form of Germany, England and France, Francesco felt that it was a good opportunity to learn from playing against more experienced players:
Francesco: “They were very difficult to play against. England and France play a type of football that has more speed and aggression. It was very difficult to play against, but it was useful to help improve our game.”
In their 7th place match against Belgium, Paul scored a last-minute strike for Italy to take the 7th place medal and move himself up to 4th place in the Top Goal Scorer Table with 5 goals.
Caption: Paul hits a last-minute stunner against Belgium for Italy to collect 7th place.
The teenage duo expressed their pride in wearing the Italian jersey and both intend to stay in the game for a very long period.
Francesco: “It was an honour to represent my nation and play here to fight for my shirt and my flag. I hope to be at the next European Championships and stay in the Italian National Team.”
Paul: “My dream was to play in the European Championships. I now want to become a professional blind football player.”
IBSA Blind Football would like to congratulate Paul and Francesco on their historic achievement and look forward to their progression in Blind Football over the forthcoming years.
Caption: the Italian National Team celebrates 7th place position.
to see more photos of the Italian National Team at the European Championships. Follow IBSA Blind Football on Facebook
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Caption: Caption: Paul (left) and Francesco (right) prepare to take a free-kick at the Youth Camp in Hamburg in 2015.