Delivery of blind football session
SUFFOLK FA and Anyone Can provided a blind football session for Needham Market Academy.
England visually impaired international Harry Macdonald from Anyone Can collaborated with Suffolk FA to deliver a blind football workshop at Needham Market Academy. The aim of the session was to raise awareness of different disabilities in football.
Harry delivered several different activities including passing, dribbling, shooting and even included some game play, all the activities were completed using blind folds and regulations blind footballs.
In the afternoon Suffolk FA Inclusive Football Development Officer Kirsty Smith presented an informative workshop detailing some other areas of disability football, the talent pathways available for disability players and how to recognise different disabilities.
Kirsty Smith said: “The idea behind the blind football session was to try to raise awareness and understanding of disability football and how football really is an inclusive sport.
“Football is the biggest sport in the world and the opportunities it provides, alongside the life and social lessons it teaches people – we don’t want anyone to miss out on all of this because of a disability or impairment.
“Disability football within the county is growing, with our adult PAN Disability league going from strength-to-strength each season – however we realise there are hundreds of players with disability playing within mainstream grassroots football which we don’t have any contact with and can’t let them know all the opportunities that are out there for them.
“The beauty of disability football is that you can play for your grassroots team weekly and still be on the England Talent Pathway – the players don’t have to choose between one or the other. We want to let these hidden players know that there is a disability pathway and the dream of one day representing their country really is achievable and we, as a county, are wanting to support these players in any way we can.
“The session was a huge success – I am hopeful now that more clubs and teams will want to get involved with disability football, to help educate their players, parents, coaches, volunteers and hopefully help give as many players with an impairment the chance to excel.”
Needham Market Academy player Amy Dunn (left) playing during the session while wearing a blindfold
Robert Peace, Needham Market Academy & Operations Director said: “It is fantastic for Needham Market FC and Needham Market Academy to be working with Anyone Can to help enhance disability provision.
“The day helped increase the knowledge and awareness of different football provision with our students and highlighted the different pathways to participate within football.
“It was great for Harry to demonstrate this and showcase his involvement and representing his country playing for the England visually impaired national team.
“This is the start of a journey looking at facilitating different football provision for individuals with varying disabilities at Needham Market FC.”
The session was delivered Harry and his Bury St Edmunds-based company Anyone Can.
Harry said: “All the academy players were absolutely brilliant. It was interesting to see the players struggle with their balance, passing the ball and it really helped to show how important communication is.
“I think most importantly it provided them with an insight of what it is like to be blind. It showed what it is like to play blind football and how people can’t just take a blind fold off and have their sight back, we wanted the players to experience what some people go through every time they play.”