Blind Football showcase in Manchester ahead of European Championships

Blind Football England team members with Danny Mills, Des Kelly and Sir Philip Craven

Members of the England Blind Football team demonstrated their skills at the National Football Museum on Friday 10 April, at an event organised by The Royal National College for the Blind (RNC) and supported by The FA.

Team mates Dan English (Vice Captain) and Roy Turnham gave footwork and ball control displays to an awed crowd, who remained in near silence so that the players could hear the ball bearings within the footballs.

Sean Davies, event organiser from thePoint4, RNC’s fully accessible gym and leisure club, said: “It has been great to have the support of the National Football Museum so that the players could demonstrate how technically difficult the game really is. We are so pleased that members of the public joined in too.”

1,700 visitors of all ages attended the Football for All day, many of whom enjoyed trying to kick a blind football through Robbie Savage’s Big Mouth, a giant caricature of the Welsh footballer-turned-pundit with a goal area cut out where his mouth is; this was something only a handful of people managed. The England team members enjoyed the day as part of their preparations for the IBSA Blind Football European Championships in August.

Danny Mills, wearing a blindfold, has the ball at his feet during a demonstration to the crowd

Former England defender Danny Mills demonstrated the technical difficulty of blind football in front of the crowd and England players

BT Sport presenter Des Kelly and former England defender Danny Mills are ambassadors for blind football and RNC’s Sports Academy. Danny donned a blindfold and had some training from Head Coach Jon Pugh in front of the crowd. Describing the difficulty of simply stopping the ball without sight, he said:

“I am amazed by the skill involved in playing blind football. I tried it a number of years ago when I first visited RNC, and I got blown away by the pace with which these players play. It is a fast game and great to watch, so I hope people get behind their home team and watch the Blind Euros in Hereford this summer.”

“To win the Euros means automatic qualification to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games,” said Jon Pugh. “So the tournament means a lot to the boys. They have the advantage of being the home team, and we hope there will be a good crowd cheering them on, but they will have some stiff competition against the likes of Spain, France and Germany. We have only been a professional squad for a year, unlike many other teams in Europe, but the difference this has made to the lads’ training has been phenomenal. I am really proud of my players and I want their efforts to be rewarded.”

Tickets for the Blind Euros can be bought from tickets.rncb.ac.uk

Article written by Anika Backhouse, PR, Publications & Outreach Officer at RNC