Brazilian forward glides the ball past the last defender, runs around
him and traps the ball centimeters before it goes dead. An Argentine
makes a dazzling run through the opposition and fires a thunderous
shot that goes just wide. This is the typical skill that we expect
from two of the World's great soccer nations; the only difference
is that these players are blind!
soccer is played by teams of 5 players on an enclosed field of 40x20
metres with 4 blind players covering the roles of attack and defense,
and a fully sighted goalkeeper who must remain within the small goal
box area. The ball has rattles inside so that players can judge its
location, speed and direction and can be rebounded off the low walls.
A coach stands behind the goal to direct his team's shots. Players
must call "voy" as they run so that other players know where
they are and the risk of collisions can be reduced. Like any soccer
game there is plenty of contact but there is none of the pushing and
shoving or faking injuries so common in matches at all levels these
is the final of the 5 nation blind soccer tournament (Spain, Greece,
and England also competed) between Argentina's Murcielagos (Bats)
and Brazil. It's a glorious afternoon in Buenos Aires as the Brazilian
team takes the field to warm up, they enter smiling and dancing in
the typical Brazilian manner. Around the ground are banners and flags
proudly supporting the Argentine team, the
players don't need to be able to see them to feel the support that
is there for them.
Blind Soccer is in many ways what sport is really about, the values
of teamwork, competition, and fair play are ever present here, and
there is no video analysis, big sponsorship or endorsement contracts.
No player thinks themselves bigger than the game itself.
first half gets underway with the Brazilians showing amazing ball
control and getting close to scoring on several occasions. Argentina
defends strongly and also creates several good chances. Silvio Velo
leads the way for Argentina while Brazil's number 9 shows deft balance
and an incredible ability to hone in on the ball.
a pretty exciting game and it's hard but essential for the crowd to
keep quiet so that the players can hear the ball and the calls of
teammates and opposition. Play is stopped when a jet takes off from
the nearby domestic airport and drowns out all sound.
At halftime its nil all, Brazil have created the most chances but
Argentina was perhaps the closest to scoring. The players are guided
off and led to their seats for a rest, drink and team talk. The control
and orientation the players have as they run around the field is amazing,
they go forwards, backwards, and sideways, they know when they are
near the side of the pitch and somehow even after falling over or
spinning around know exactly which way to run.
late afternoon sun is going down and a beautiful orange glow fills
the sky, it seems a strange twist when the floodlights are switched
on to let us sighted spectators see better the magic weaved by the
second half is played with the same skill and intensity as the first
with both teams striving hard to score the winning goal. The communication
between players defies belief as passes are played forward with ESP
vision and picked up by attackers who head towards the goal. It's
easy to forget that you are watching blind players in action.
is awarded a penalty with 5 minutes to go and star player Silvio Velo
steps up to take the shot. The crowd waits in nervous silence as he
lines up the kick, it's struck sweetly but the goalie just manages
to get a hand to it and make the save. In making the save the goalie
is injured and play stops as the Brazilian doctor who himself is blind
is led on to attend to the sighted goalie. Here on the field these
blind athletes make us challenge our preconceptions as well as our
calls a timeout with less than a minute left in a desperate attempt
to conjure up the winning goal. They can't do it though and neither
can Brazil and the game goes into extra time. After two 10 minute
periods of tension filled extra time still no goal has been scored
and the game ends tied 0-0. Unfortunately as in sighted games and
modern society a winner must be found and penalties are the regulation
manner to find that essential winner and unjust loser.
The penalties are the best of 3 but each team has 6 shots before Brazil
emerges victorious. The Brazilians burst into celebration and jump
and dance their way around the field in victory. The Argentine players
hug each other sad that they have lost but really nobody here is a
loser, their attitude to life and sport makes them winners in every
sense and there are many lessons to be learnt from these dedicated
the game cups and medals are presented to the winners and runners
up, the Argentines stand proudly as they receive their medals. Cameras
and television crews focus on the player's and its incredibly moving
to see these sightless eyes crying.
hang around for a while on the field after the game to take some photos
and feel the atmosphere. It is a special and uplifting moment as the
Brazilians share a prayer together while the Argentine players greet
fans, family and friends. I feel privileged to have been witness to
a wonderful display of sport and sporting values.
me the most moving moment of the tournament was during the preliminary
game between Argentina and Spain when Argentina scored a brilliant
goal to break the nil all deadlock. It seemed like an eternity as
the goal scorer walked with his arms outstretched until he found one
of his teammates to hug and celebrate with. The crowds shouts that
followed the goal meant the players could not hear where their teammates
home it was dark and difficult to see in the poorly lit streets on
which I made my way, I knew though that tomorrow the sun would be
up again to light my way. For the blind however they will always be
walking in the dark not quite sure what lies around the corner. For
them everyday is a challenge. Watching these wonderful athletes and
human beings reminded me that "Sometimes we all must look at
the world with different eyes"