- Date: 23-08-2019
- Related to: Football
By Sarah Nasir for IBSA
The Peruvian national blind football team is ready to host the 2019 Parapan American Games in Lima for the first time, where they hope to make an impact on home soil.
As well as the hosts the competition, that gets underway on Friday (23 August) with the Opening Ceremony, will feature defending champions and world title-holders Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico and Costa Rica.
Peru’s team captain Rony Estrada Ramirez is ready for the battle his team will face against some of the best sides in the world:
“We have been working together as a team since 2017, but for the Parapan Games, we have been working for a few months, seeing the lines in question of the teams we are going to face. The team is very focused on the rivals, working on a lot of techniques and on teamwork. Thus, we are very much excited for this great event.”
What is crucial for Peru is not winning the trophy, but a chance to assess their progress and play at home.
“What matters to us is to be able to measure the ranking issue. We are very honoured to host and play at a very important event on our land, which adds to the satisfaction and motivation.”
Blind football in Peru began as non-professional until the National Paralympic Committee (NPC) gave their support. With the sport being relatively new to the country, Peru formed its own team with the players they could find and with technical and logistical help from the NPC.
Peru made their international debut at the IBSA Blind Football American Championships 2017 in Santiago de Chile, Chile, where they finished sixth.
This prior experience against the best teams in the region, as well as the home advantage, is what Ramirez is counting on for his team to perform to their best.
“There is obviously a sense of nervousness, but the majority who are in the Peruvian national team already have international matches which gives you another way to step on the court. We have already faced the rivals that come, each game is different but the house is respected as they say and much more with your people.
”Brazil and Argentina are the World Cup winners, they are the powers. Colombia, Mexico and Costa Rica are teams that have more years of work, but we can counter it with the weapons we have and that is what we aim at, getting results and points from these direct rivals. However, more than results, for us it is very satisfying to be able to see our evolution and selection. Facing tough teams does not cause nervousness but it is also to show our talent, that we have it.”
For the Peruvian team, and Ramirez, blind football has had a powerful impact.
”Football for me is a sport that makes me show people that a blind person is not a limited person, but is a person who can develop and move normally. This sport opened many doors and made me meet very good people. Therefore, I say to the companions who do not see or the families that sometimes think that the blind person has to be at home all day, that this is life. Football for me is life, it is a passion that I will show with my team in Lima 2019.”
Blind football at the Lima 2019 Parapan American Games starts on 24 August with the final taking place on 30 August.