India has confirmed its intentions to make waves in blind football by opening its first-ever academy for footballers who are blind or partially sighted.
The academy was inaugurated on 15th September in the presence of Ulrich Pfisterer, chairman of the IBSA Football Committee, and at the end of a very successful week-long training camp.
Caption: Ulrich Pfisterer speaks during the inauguration of the academy.
Blind football is one of the fastest growing sports for visually impaired athletes in the country. It is run by SRVC, the Society for Rehabilitation of the Visually Challenged
, a Kochi-based organisation, under the auspices of the Indian Blind Sports Association
, the IBSA affiliate in the country.
Around 40 participants from all over the country - Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Rajasthan, Kolkata, Odisha, Meghalaya, Arunachal, Bengaluru, Chennai and Kerala - came together at the academy in Kochi for the training camp and official opening.
Caption: players in training.
India has now held two national championships and the latest All-India Invitational Tournament was won last May by NIVH Dehradun, who beat SRVC Kerala 1-0 in the final.
Also, in December 2016 Blind Football India hosted an international tri-nations tournament featuring Malaysia and Laos.
India finished sixth at the 2015 Asian Championships in Tokyo, Japan, and the national squad is in full training mode in the run up to the 2017 IBSA Blind Football Asian Championships
in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in December.
India is currently sitting 23rd in the IBSA Blind Football World Ranking.
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Caption: players and staff pose for a family photo.
Caption: players practise their basic skills during the training camp.