Zimbabwe takes another huge step forward in developing blind football by holding a five-day coaching clinic for coaches and players from all corners of the country.
The IBSA Blind Football Committee partnered with the Zimbabwe Paralympic Committee (ZNPC) to deliver Zimbabwe’s first-ever Blind Football Coaching Clinic in the Bulawayo province from 26th to 30th August.
Under the theme 'Blind Football: Bridging the Gap between Blindness and Sporting Excellence', 16 coaches and 21 players from six provinces came together to learn more about the rules, techniques and tactics of the game.
The coaching clinic was divided into two sections: a ‘train the trainers’ course to provide coaches with blind soccer techniques and exercises followed by a practical assessment, and a training camp to put the 17 outfield players and 4 goalkeepers through their paces technically, psychologically, socially and physically. The players came from the following clubs and institutions: Mtshabezi High School (Matebeleland South), Murewa High School (Mashonaland East), John Tallac High School (Matebeleland North), Nyamuzuwe High School (Mashonaland West), Bulawayo Sports Club (Bulawayo), Gwanda High School (Matebeleland South), Copota School for the Blind (Masvingo) and Jairos Jiri Kadoma (Mashonaland West).
The first two days focused on ball control both theoretically and practically. Coaches were required to work in groups and list what attributes a good blind footballer needs, as well as analyse how players control the ball and what areas of the pitch players shoot from footage. On the pitch, players completed team bonding exercises and competitions, such as carrying their teammates on their back from one side of the pitch to the other. The rest of the practical activities focused on receiving the ball in a ‘v shape’, dribbling using different shapes such as an S, C and U, shielding the ball, and passing accurately to teammates using the side-foot passes, sole roll and ‘scoop’.
The third and fourth days were centred on designing tactics for scoring from penalties, corner-kicks and free-kicksm, and goalkeeper specific training and team play (attacking and defensive shape). The penultimate day saw the coaches complete a practical assessment in pairs followed by matches for the men and women respectively. Matches were repeated on the final day; this time however players used the Goalfix Eyeshades and official international Mc Yadra balls to simulate an international match for players and coaches alike.
Caption: Simelinkosi Mbedzi protects the ball from a coach using his right foot.
Each player received a ball and blindfold to continue practising whilst at home and introduce the game to visually impaired and blind people in their province. Meanwhile, the coaches were provided with a coaching certificate upon successfully passing the course.
Valentine Mpofu, a male player from Copota School for the Blind in Masvingo, when reflecting on the coaching clinic, said he learned “how to dribble the ball in an arc shape, shoot from the 6 metre penalty spot and listen attentively to the guide”.
Chengetai Chipanga, a female player from Murewa High School who attended the 2019 IBSA Blind Football Women’s Training Camp and Games in Tokyo, Japan, added: “I enjoyed the coaching clinic and the coaches were fantastic. I feel I’ve improved a lot in this sport and have gained a lot of friends”.
Christiana Chagwiza, a female coach from Jairos Jiri Kadoma, felt that “the training strengthened our capacity as coaches to have more skills and techniques in coaching blind footballers and imparting the safety skills in them. The training enabled the players to develop very strong teamwork skills, which has a huge impact on the confidence and self-esteem of all involved”.
Caption: Chengetai Chipanga dribbles past two players towards the attacking goal in the women’s match.
“The clinic was in a class of its own, where the impossible became possible. I plan to coach all learners with visual impairments in my school, even adults in the community, have friendly matches with other schools that also play the game and invite other teachers in the school, and especially PE & sports teachers, to coach blind football with me”, added Elizabeth Chingwena, a blind football coach representing Nyamuzuwe High School.
After the coaching clinic, the Zimbabwe NPC visited the University of Zimbabwe (UZ), where the country’s first blind football workshop ever was held on 10 April 2018. The UZ Blind Football team completed an hour long training session on 2nd September 2019 which focused on focused on: dribbling, the rule of “VOY!” and passing the ball accurately to teammates. The training session included nine players, of whom five were newcomers to the game, and also served as preparation for the blind football competition at the Danhiko Paralympic Games taking place this month. Dr. Tafara Marazi - a member of the team and a Doctor in Sociology at the University - is keen to introduce blind football (with support from ZNPC and UZ) to the blind and visually impaired community in two settlement areas in the Harare province - Epworth and Hatcliffe.
Caption: Elizabeth Chingwena poses with her coaching certificate alongside ZNPC President Michael Bulagango.
With Matebeleland North becoming the seventh province to join the Zimbabwean Blind Football family through the clinic, the Zimbabwe NPC plans to implement blind football in the remaining three provinces: Mashonaland Central, Manicaland and Midlands. Over the forthcoming months, a two-day Blind Football Training Camp and Games will be held at Mahuwe Primary and High School in Mashonaland Central, which has a resource unit with 15 blind and visually impaired learners.
Caption: University of Zimbabwe players practise dribbling with the ball in a stationary position.
“Following the successful coaching clinic, we will now look ahead to providing refresher courses and expose coaches and players to provincial competitions before going to international competitions,” said the Zimbabwe National Paralympic Committee President Michael Bulagango.
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Caption: group photo of all the participants.