Society

Chennai to host its first national blind football championship for women

“Pullingo,” he calls in his deep voice. “Yes coach!” the footballers answer as a team.

This isn’t a scene from Bigil. It is coach Francis Sebastian’s way of calling his female students, who flash a smile when asked about their sport: blind football.

Tamil Nadu Blind Football Association partnering with the Indian Blind Football Association is all set to host the national level championship for both men and women from October 26 to October 30 with sixteen men’s teams and six women’s teams taking part. About 200 players from West Bengal, Karnataka and many other states are expected to participate. While this is the sixth edition for men, it is the first ever edition for the female army.

“I have always wanted to come out big in football, and to represent Tamil Nadu in this sport is a dream come true,” says player R Vijayalakshmi, 21, at a press meet at The Savera. “The first day I entered the field, I was so afraid that I stood rooted in the same spot. My mother convinced me to keep playing and with the support of my family, I am here. I wish to become an international player. I really feel grateful to have coach Sebastian sir who is helping us pursue our interests,” she adds.

With the support of the Montfort School, the association conducted a three-day residential camp in September. With a turnover of over 80 players, the camp lay the foundation for TNFBA to host the national level tournament.

“We struggled for funding the national level contest because we are privately funded by family, friends and well wishers. But these children were like, ‘Sir do it, we will work hard’. So here we are, six days away from the game,” beams Francis. “Our plan is to get them into a small prep camp before the competition,” he adds.

Explaining the game, he says that each player has three reference points: the jingling sound ball, side boards and audio commands from goal keeper, head coach and goal guide.

“There is no opportunity for sports for people with disabilities in most special schools. Regular schools focus on academics, but without physical activities it becomes monotonous,” adds Dipti Jha, CEO of the association, adding that the goal was for the players to reach Paralympics. The long term vision of TNFBA is to host an international tournament in Chennai by 2024.


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Printable version | Dec 8, 2021 9:07:09 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/chennai-to-host-its-first-blind-football-championship-for-women/article37087301.ece

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