Thrilling times are ahead for Guatemala’s blind football team as they prepare to host the 2019 International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Blind Football Central American Championships in Ciudad de Guatemala from Tuesday 5th November.
Guatemala is staging the competition for the second time and team captain Eliseo Orozco is enthusiastic and wants to win:
“Since the last championship, the team has been training three times a week. Our coach is preparing new game strategies to improve our tactics on the field. We are nervous, but it is something that we need to manage in the tournament and I am sure the team will make all the effort to do our best in the games.”
Blind football is popular in Guatemala but IBSA Blind Football’s formal involvement in Central America is relatively new – and developing all the time.
Teams competed at the first regional Championships in 2017 where Costa Rica emerged the victors followed by Guatemala. Much to the delight of players like Orozco, it gave them an opportunity to make their passion for the sport official.
Orozco explained: “I have been visually impaired for the past 11 years, however what I learned from talking to elderly visually impaired people was that many years ago, they used to play football in their leisure time. Some blind associations, including El Comité Pro Ciegos, have been organizing small two-day tournaments once a year in Guatemala, where sometimes national teams from El Salvador and Honduras were part of it.
“Football has been a great experience in my life. For me it means continuous teamwork, concentration and hard work.”
Caption: image of the pitch with the championships banner and the Comité Pro Ciegos y Sordos logo.
For the hosts of the 2019 edition, they believe their main opponents remain the defending champions.
“We see Costa Rica as our principal competitor, because that team has been participating in international tournaments. Costa Rica is showing an important improvement in its game. Of course, we will push ourselves forward to improve our game. The pressure is high for the team, but we are sure that we will overcome it with strength and teamwork,” Orozco said.
The 2019 IBSA Blind Football Central American Championships run from 5th to 10th November and are hosted by the Comité Pro Ciegos y Sordos de Guatemala.
By Sarah Nasir for IBSA