Blind players get chance to shine

A memorable moment for the players as they enter the field in Gdansk
GDANSK June 23: As Germany and Greece braced for their crunch Euro 2012 quarter-final on Friday, two teams of blind players showed off their skills in a match meant to show that lack of sight should be no barrier to sport.

Organised as part of the “Respect” campaign run by European football’s governing body UEFA, the five-a-side game was held on the same pitch where the professionals of Germany and Greece were due to kick off less than two hours later.

“The issue of disability has been sidelined, almost like it’s the secret bit of football that no-one’s thought about,” Joyce Cook, head of the British-based group Centre for Access to Football in Europe, said.

“It’s a breath of fresh air that UEFA’s stepped in. It’s about players, fans and beyond that, about diversity and access for disabled people, who get a raw deal in so many areas of life.”

Wearing black eye-covers which help level the playing field between blind and partially-sighted players, the teams from Polish football hubs Wroclaw and Chorzow battled it out 2-2 over two seven-minute halves.

Goalkeepers in blind football are sighted and do not wear eye-covers.


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