“When you play football you feel free” - Dorottya Velegi (Hungary)
Young male and female players from five countries and coaches from six nations came together last weekend to attend the IBSA Blind Football European Youth Camp, organised by the IBSA Football Committee in partnership with local team FC St Pauli Blindenfussball
Players and coaches from Spain, Germany, Hungary and Georgia were joined by a coach from blind football newcomers Austria for two days of intense but highly enjoyable training sessions under the watchful eye of German national coach and committee chairman Ulrich Pfisterer.
Caption: Franchesco (Italy, left) and Cristian (Spain, right) practise taking corners.
The camp was held as part of the UEFA-funded IBSA Blind Football Development Project Europe, a five-year programme supported by the European football governing body.
The players, some of whom have only been playing the game for three months, picked up skills including orientation and mobility in space, communication skills, ball skills, working in game specific situations and tactical understanding. The dedicated and talented coaches worked together and with the players.
At the end of the event each player was presented with a ball to train with at home.
Following the camp some of the young players gave their impressions of the experience:
Paul Iyobo (Italy):
“I’ve been playing for two years. At the camp here I’ve learnt that communication is very important during the match - without communication you can’t win. I’ve also learnt that if you don’t have passion to play blind football then you can’t be a good player.”
Caption: Paul (Italy) works on his ball skills with a local coach.
Jonathan Tönsing (Germany):
"Blind football is a wonderful team sport. Without communication you can’t do anything in a team, and thinking I am the best player doesn’t help the Team.”
Andrés García (Spain):
“It was a great experience. Very enriching because I had the chance to meet players from other countries and the opportunity to learn and improve working with the coaches from all the countries.”
Franchesco Cavallotto (Italy)
: “I’ve been playing blind football for three years. This weekend I’ve learnt how to communicate better with my teammates and improved my positioning on the pitch. In blind football it’s important to communicate a lot and all the time.
You must be willing to learn from others all the time and not think you are the best. I still have a lot to learn. Passion is important and, as Ulrich [Pfisterer] said yesterday, “If you’re not passionate you can’t play well.”
Paul Ruge (Germany):
“It was very impressive to notice how important communication is to play blind football well."
Cristian Medina (Spain):
“The camp was a wonderful experience. To share the time with people from so many countries was great. My football has improved and so has my English!”
Dorottya Velegi (Hungary):
“I’ve only been playing blind football for four months. During the camp I learnt a lot of new things, such as how to control the ball better, and how to know where you are on the pitch. I’ve picked up a lot of new skills here.
Caption:Dorottya (Hungary) practises her penalties.
Blind football is an international sport and it’s good that we can play football. It’s important for all blind people to know that this sport is there for them to play. This weekend was very useful for me because I met a lot of new people who are doing the same sport but are from different cultures. The one common element that brings us together is football.
When you play football you feel free and you feel you are a member of a team. Football teaches you how to be a team player.”
Wolf Schmidt, team leader from local partners FC St Pauli Blindenfussball, had this to say about the camp: "We at FC St Pauli Blindenfussball are proud to be the host for the first European blind football youth camp. It was a fantastic experience for the young players and for the coaches, to feel how passion for football can break barriers! No matter if these are barriers because of different languages, or eyesight, or even both.
Football has a strong power to break down or overcome barriers together in a team. It was just a weekend, but you can feel the passionate impulse for starting an international network which helps to develop blind football as a competitive sport for the youngest players.
It was great. We’re looking forward for the first European blind football matches for young players."
Caption: Paul (Italy, left) and Franchesco (Italy, right) prepare to take a free kick. To their right Aleksandre, Giorgi and Daviti (all Georgia) line up in a defensive wall.
Spanish coach Antonio Ruíz praised IBSA for taking the initiative to organise the event: "This kind of camp is always a good thing because you can learn how different coaches work in different countries. Above all, it’s a great opportunity for young players to develop technically and tactically, and as individuals.”
IBSA Blind Football wishes to acknowledge support from Handi Life Sport
in donating balls for the camp.
To view more photos from the camp visit the IBSA Blind Football Facebook group
For more information on the IBSA Blind Football Development Project Europe contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Caption: FC St Pauli Blindenfussball team logo.