Blind Football made its maiden appearance in Australia three years ago in Victoria through a development programme run by Blind Sports Victoria. Today, the sport is now being spread across Australia through Blind Sports Australia (BSA), the peak body for blind football in the country.
BSA has created a national program to develop blind football across the nation and to form national teams (in both B1 and B2/B3) to compete in continental and world championships. Education workshops and national team selection trials have taken place in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Adelaide over the past few months, with approximately 60 players, coaches and volunteers taking part in a blind football education workshop and training sessions in B1 and B2/B3 football.
Caption: players and coaches after a training session.
Following these workshops, a body has been created under Blind Sports Australia - Australian Blind Football. Australian Blind Football will work with both state blind sport organisations and football federations to assist with the development of community blind football participation opportunities. Australian Blind Football will also develop a national team development program, which will include national camps, national championships and participation in international tournaments.
Australian Blind Football Coordinator Dave Connolly says, “It has taken a couple of years to get to this stage but it is an exciting time for blind football in Australia. While visiting states during the rollout of the national education program, I experienced first-hand the enthusiasm for the game. A number of players even put their hand up to see what they could do to support the development of the sport. It is great to see there is so much enthusiasm, some of the players have ambitious goals and we want to help them to achieve these goals. It is really important to acknowledge how blind football can be a game changer for people who are blind or vision impaired in Australia.”
Matthew Cameron, who has a visual impairment and participated in the Sydney workshop, said, “One thing I have always dreamed about is playing for my country in football. Now, that dream is within reach. After having to give up mainstream football due to my deteriorating vision I have been able to slip my goalkeeper gloves back on and do what I have always loved.”
Caption: picture showing two players' feet, one with a blind football, during a training session.
Australian Blind Football is also excited to announce the appointment of a National Head Coach, Michael Roski. Dave Connolly says, “Michael has been involved in blind football activities in Melbourne for the past 18 months and has been instrumental in growing participation and awareness at a local level, while also assisting with a variety of activities during the national rollout. It’s great to have Michael on board in this role – a reward for Michael’s commitment and dedication in developing the sport.” Michael will head to the IBSA Blind Football Asian Championships in Kuala Lumpur in December to further develop his knowledge of blind football.
What’s next? Australian Blind Football is currently in the process of finalising a national squad, containing B1 and B2/B3 players, with an announcement due in the next month.
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