RRT helps out at Blind Football Euro Championships in Hereford UK
Over the week from 22nd – 29th August 2015, the Royal National College for the Blind, a registered Charity based in Hereford UK, hosted the Blind Football European Championship Tournament.
The Royal National College for the Blind (RNC), is the UK’s leading specialist residential college of further education for people with a visual impairment. Since 1872 the RNC has been a beacon for people with a variety of visual impairments to increase their independence, build confidence and to learn academically, vocationally and socially.
Partnerships with key organisations, businesses and individuals enables the students to participate in a range of activities from Duke of Edinburgh Awards to national elite sports events such as the Blind Football Championships – all amazing experiences that students say really add to and change their lives.
Answering to a direct call for help from the charity organisers, RRT volunteers from Hereford and Gloucester came forward to assist with the many tasks involved in the running of such an event including manning the Customer Service Point and Ticket Registration Desks, acting as Stand Stewards, Ball Boys, Message Runners, Car Park Attendants and Site Guides which included leading visually impaired and disabled spectators to their seats.
RRT also provided snack-packs and water for all the event workers, and water for the spectators on some of the hotter days. Over the whole time approximately 900 snack lunches were provided and over 4200 bottles of water.
Ten National Blind Football Teams from England, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Poland, Russia, Spain, Belgium, France and Germany were vying for a place at the Paralympic Games due to be held in Rio during 2016.
The teams play Five-a-Side. The Goal Keepers are sighted, but the four Outfield Players all have their eyes patched and blind-folded rendering them totally blind. The ball is full of ball-bearings to make it rattle, so it is important the spectators remain silent while the ball is in play. Each team also has a guide behind the opposition’s goal to help them toward the target by sound.
Many people think that Blind Football is played at a sedate pace, but they couldn’t be more wrong. It is played at full speed, and the close ball control skill of the players, (comparable to more famous sighted players), and the way they move about clearly trusting on their senses is incredible to watch.
England started well beating Poland 7-0, Italy 3-0, Germany 2 -0 and Turkey 2-1 to finish top in their group games, but lost to Russia 0 -1 in the semi-final after a penalty shoot-out. Turkey beat Spain in the other semi-final and were the eventual winners beating Russia 1-0 in the final. Only the winners and runners-up qualified for Rio.
The England Blind Football Squad personally thanked the RRT for their help during the event and for the fruit and water provided at half-time for the players. In particular they were very grateful for the many ice packs secured and delivered in Rapid Response Time to the changing rooms for use in treatment on some of the minor & not-so-minor injuries received by some players.
The organisers, senior figures at RNC and other volunteers were full of praise for the work of the RRT during the event as witnessed in the accompanying videos, and everyone agreed the whole event was a great success and enjoyed by everyone – despite the fact that our home team did not make it through this time! All the best for next time lads.