From Maurice Okafor, Enugu.
The blind can also play football. As part of efforts in promoting the global trend in Africa, the Nigeria blind Football teams both male and female teams at the weekend engaged Ghana’s blind national teams (Men and Women) in a two day international friendlies played at the indoor sports hall section of Nnamdi Azikiwe stadium Enugu. The male encounter ended in a goalless draw. While the Nigerian female team walloped the Ghanaian female team by four goals to nil.
Both teams had played a rehearsal match on Friday afternoon, as a measure to acquaint them with the various techniques in blind football.
The technical director of blind football in Africa, Monsieur Tousanni, who watched the two day tournament expressed happiness that more African countries are gradually embracing blind football. He expressed expectation that Africa will in no distant time produce experienced blind club sides that can compete favourably in the global Paralympics sports, featuring blind football.
He commended Bina Foundation, a non-governmental organization[NGO] based in Enugu which cares for People with Special needs for initiating and nurturing blind teams for Nigeria. He commended the President of Bina Foundation, Lady Ifeoma Atuegwu and her husband, Sir Chris Atuegwu for their consistency in funding the teams.
In a chat with news men, Lady Ifeoma Atuegwu disclosed that the international friendly between the Nigerian blind teams and their Ghanaian counterparts was part of the strategy to ignite the development of blind football in Africa, aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, in accordance with instruction from IBF[International blind football association.
She assured that the management will continue to embark on the processes of teaching and encouraging the various blind schools in the country to embrace the sports likewise supplying them with the basic equipment and training. She said the whole idea is to give the disabled [Blind] a sense of belonging which is the original motive behind the establishment of Bina Foundation.
She expressed gratitude to the support from her husband, Sir Chris Atuegwu, the CEO/Managing Director, Michelle laboratories, Thinkers Corner Enugu to Bina Foundation, from where the initiative of encouraging the blind among them to embrace blind football. But in the past two years, players from other states of the federation who are skilful have been successfully incorporated in to the national teams.
The Enugu state commissioner for Youth and Sports, Hon Manfred Nzekwe who took the kick of the tournament commended Bina Foundation for the initiative. He said the state government will continue to assist the foundation in the areas of logistics in promoting the game of blind football in Nigeria.
Blind football is a game for people with visual impairment that involves a lot of techniques. A team comprises of five players of which only the goal keeper is visually sound. The four other players even though they are clarified to be blind are further blinded with dark shields across their two eyes. The round leather ball is technically designed to make a hissing noise whenever in motion.
It is the hissing noise from the ball that guides the players to note and gain possession of the ball. However, the rule guiding blind football also permits the Coach of a team to instruct and direct his/her players from beside the pitch unlike with the rule guiding normal football.
The AUTHORITY South East post recalled that Bina Foundation has championed the cause of hosting African blind football championship in Enugu, Nigeria, for the qualifying series of 2021 paralympics sports that is currently holding in Tokyo Japan, from next month.