With 2028 ticket, US rushes to build men’s blind football team

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As part of National Blind Sports Week, USABA on Thursday hosted a Blind Soccer Clinic at the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind that introduced the sport to students.

“I hope they can put this programming in the curriculum for the future,” Garzon said.

The USA is planning to organize internships and camps to train coaches and players. Schools will be able to create teams that will compete in leagues or tournaments. From these competitions, the best players will form a national team.

Training teachers, ie coaches, is vital.

“The key part of player development is finding the players, but the most important thing is teaching someone how to teach the game,” Garzon said. “If we have a player in Iowa who comes to a regular club and says, ‘I want to play football,’ we have permission there for someone to start teaching the game. started this all over the country, we can start building clubs in the cities, once you have clubs you can move on to regional, national, etc. events.

“We are fortunate that football is a well recognized sport across the United States, well positioned at the club level. We just want to be a part of this movement to see how we can use this path to bring players to our sport. “

This means working with local schools and local and regional soccer associations.

“We want to start working in partnership with US Soccer, US Youth Soccer, where we can use their paths that they’ve already set up across the country, with clubs, with state associations, as well as schools for the blind, ”Garzon said. noted.

Garzon would like to see local clubs set up next year and add regional tournaments by 2023.

However, even that could be sped up.

Dr Skye Arthur-Banning, blind football referee and associate professor at Clemson University, said if the United States was to qualify for the Paralympics, it would have to go through traditional powers such as Brazil and the ‘Argentina, as well as the 2016 Paralympic Games. Mexico rookie. It won’t be a problem for 2028.

“It’s so exciting to be able to tell the athletes that if you are on this team and you participate in this cycle, you will be in the Paralympic Games,” he said in a soccer panel discussion. blind Thursday. “It’s something that doesn’t happen very often. We don’t want to have a team ready for 2028. We need to have a good team probably for 2024 (when the Paralympics are in Paris) so that we can compete in this four year cycle leading up to 2028.

Blind soccer is played on a 20×40 meter field with buffets. The matches are divided into two 20-minute halves.

Although the game resembles traditional 11-a-side football, there are rules that make the game easier for visually impaired athletes. In addition to the bell inside the ball, defenders must shout “voy” – in Spanish for “I’m leaving” – when approaching. Spectators should remain silent, so that players are not distracted and do not miss the sound of the ball.

Many countries have taken a step ahead, having played internationally for decades. Brazil maintained their stranglehold on the Paralympic gold medal this summer, beating Argentina 1-0 in the final in Tokyo. The gold medal was Brazil’s fifth in the sport’s five Paralympic tournaments, while Argentina has now won a medal in four games. Spain, which has played blind football since the 1920s, is the only other country to qualify for all five Paralympic tournaments and has twice won bronze medals.

To reach this level, the learning curve will be great.

“For the men, we’re down, to be honest,” said Timothy Taylor, panel member, coach of the Maryland School for the Blind football team. “I think we could build a team. We could take care of other countries. We are novices. We are new. We are learning. We’re almost at the youth level and we’re making progress, which is good.

Garzon added, “These countries at the elite level have been playing for 30 years. We have a gap to hopefully reach. How quickly we reach that gap, it will depend on how quickly we start the element of the game in the country. The United States has a large population and the game is well known. We have to create opportunities for the players to come out.

Women’s blind football is not part of the Paralympic Games and will not be in 2028, but it could be added to the 2032 Paralympic Games in Brisbane, Australia, Garzon said.

“We are in a time when women’s football is exploding on a global scale,” he said. “You have leagues in almost every country in Europe and South America. In blind football, this movement is only just beginning too. We are in a position where we will develop both the male and female teams. Hopefully this gap on the girls’ side doesn’t take as long as the guys might.

It would be nice with Bailey Martin, 19, of Hubbard, Iowa, a track star who has taken over the game.

“My short term goal is to be part of a team, improve myself and work on different skills,” she said during the panel. “My long term goal is to win more than one Paralympic gold for soccer.

It turns out that Garzon and Martin weren’t the only ones with big dreams.

Coach Taylor too.

“I want to be part of this 2028 team in Los Angeles,” he said. “It’s a goal I set for myself – either to be on the sidelines or to be part of this organization that sends this team to the Paralympics in 2028.”

Before that, there will be a lot of work to do.


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