Sports

Blind Footballers prepare for 2019 Tournament

The Blind Football Project in Nigeria was inaugurated on Wednesday, 12 April 2017 at the Union Secondary School, Awkunanaw, Enugu, a historical landmark that serves as the official introduction of modern Blind Football in Nigeria.

Lady Ifeoma Atuegwu

Have you ever watched visually challenged people play football? Here’s your chance to see one.

The 2019 edition of the Blind Football tournament, the third in the series, will on Friday, 11 November 2019 be unveiled at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Stadium, Ogui Road, Enugu.

It is a 10-day festival of sportsmanship celebrating the capacity of challenged individuals to overcome natural handicaps and have some fun.

Blind Football is already a common feature around the world and but is now being popularized by an Enugu-based NGO, Bina Foundation, which pioneered the event in April 2017.

It is a game of football played by blind and visually impaired young men and women which has, since 1996, been recognized as an official sports of the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA).

The game is also played at the Paralympics by blind and partially impaired athletes within the standard 40m x 20m pitch with side kickboards and an audible ball.

Blind Football is a five-a-side game, each team fielding four players and a goalkeeper. The field players wear eyeshades to ensure that everyone is equally sighted while the goalkeeper can be either fully or partially sighted.

Bina Foundation, launched by Lady Ifeoma Atuegwu, hopes to use its academy and sporting events to promote social integration, empower players economically, foster friendship among blind athletes, and change social stereotyping on abilities of disabled persons.

The Blind Football Project in Nigeria was inaugurated on Wednesday, 12 April 2017 at the Union Secondary School, Awkunanaw, Enugu, a historical landmark that serves as the official introduction of modern Blind Football in Nigeria.

Archbishop Emmanuel Chukwuma of the Enugu Diocese Anglican Communion performed the official kick-off ceremony in the maiden 2017 tournament, with players drawn from various states in Nigeria.

According to the Foundation, there was an initial challenge of providing special equipment, tools as well as training officials for the game. This challenge was overcome by locally manufacturing aluminum rebound kick boards, sound balls, eye shades, mobile goalposts, jerseys, t-shirts, and training bibs for use in its Blind Academy where it trains athletes.

Also, coaches, referees, guides, goalkeepers and other staff required to run the academy are being trained “without any foreign input or resources,” the Foundation said.

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