A NEW DAWN FOR SPORTS
Kochi will be the first state in the country to open a football academy for the blinds. The Blind Football Academy is set to be inaugurated tomorrow on September 15.
Suneil J Matthew, sporting director at Indian Blind Football Federation (IBFF) is initiating the project. This project is undertaken along with the support of the Society for Rehabilitation of Visually Challenged (SRVC).
A HOPE FOR ALL THE TALENTED BLIND FOOTBALL PLAYERS:
Gabriel Nongrum, a 23-year-old footballer from Meghalaya, Shillong is determined as he has been selected among other such fellow players to join this academy. Now he is all set to move to Kochi for undergoing full-time training in the academy. Having lost his eyesight at the age of 2, Gabriel never had a chance to play with a ball in his life. With this innovative approach by both IBFF and SRVC, Gabriel along with other such determined players will also be able to fulfil their dreams of a footballer.
Apart from Gabriel, all 7 other players selected by IBFF will be moving to Kochi where they will be given training in football and other vocational skills.
“After their career as a footballer, they will at least be able to earn something for their own rather than being dependent on others for their survival”, says Mathew.
This is a huge project and it will also result in persuading an appropriate ministry to fund the project wholeheartedly. “We are trying to bring someone important from the Ministry to attend and inaugurate this grand event”, says Mathew.
The German counterpart for the same cause, UEFA funded, International Blind Sports Federation chair, Ulrich Pfisterer is scheduled to arrive for the event. He is also the coach of the German Blind Football Teach Will.
“He will be a mentor for our players and will help in boosting their confidence”, says Singh. Apart from Germany, several other countries and national teams have also shown interest in collaborating with this project.
The academy has currently, two permanent training staffs and one physiotherapist. To support the team and train in a healthy manner, they also have gym trainer, yoga trainer and nutritionist. The main practice ground set for this academy will be Jogo Football Arena in Kadavanthara which has already opened by the early September.
Aspirations of a blind footballer:
Nongrum’s dream is to see the day when the Indian blind football team will be declared a winner. Born to a farmer in Meghalaya, he was optimistic about the whole project, that will help in building a new platform for all those players who are visually impaired. “Being a blind, people did had many speculations about how can a blind person become a footballer but my family were always supportive of my dreams”, says Nongrum.
Due to less funds, the academy is unable to accommodate more players and is therefore restricted to only 8 members.