American blind soccer team based in Colorado Springs launches a new sport during the LA Paralympics



COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado – American athletes have already made an impressive start at the Paralympics, with many local athletes competing for a medal this weekend, but even with the focus on Tokyo, work doesn’t stop here in Colorado Springs. There is a US sports association kicking off a new sport that hopefully will dominate them in a few years when the Paralympics are on home soil.

From the outside, a soccer camp in the SoccerHaus on Garden of the Gods Road seems like any other soccer camp. But as soon as you see the eye masks, you realize that these players cannot see.

“We have to communicate, we have to learn how to move on the field, with those very scary walls around us and also with our teammates and defenders coming our way. So there are a lot of new skills,” says Charles Catherine.

Catherine is one of nine visually impaired athletes from across the country who came to Colorado Springs for this camp hosted by the United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA), based here in Olympic City, USA.

Catherine grew up playing soccer for fun, but since he was born with poor eyesight, he never played on a team. He lost his vision about a decade ago and now wants to be part of a new US sport.

“Our goal is to take this to the United States as a recreational sport while also thinking of high performance and development so that we can have a team in LA in seven years,” said Molly Quinn, CEO of USABA.

Quinn says blind football is popular around the world and has become one of the fastest growing Paralympic sports.

It’s a game played with five athletes on each team, with a ball rattling so the players can hear where it is. Athletes also rely heavily on communication, with offensive and defensive players talking to each other and using special cues so they can try not to run into each other on the field. There is also a trainer near the goal who tells the players where the posts are and when to shoot.

“It’s very exciting to create a brand new sport in a country from scratch, but there is a lot of work to be done,” said Kevin Brousard, director of USABA program and finance.

And Brousard is a good person to pave the way for blind football in the US, having a history of being a visually impaired athlete. He is a three-time world champion in the shot put and discus, as well as a national judo champion.

“It’s a very rewarding job because as a person who has been blind since birth and was often bullied because of my disability, the focus was on the things I couldn’t do and it was all about being blind” says Brousard. “And then I found sports, and I found the US Association of Blind Athletes, and they’ve really helped change the way the things I can do and do as an athlete and the things that go with it, confidence building, the work ethic that goes with it is really ingrained in every aspect of my life. When I get up and go to work every morning, I know I can have the same impact on others. “

Work starts now with training and building a competitive national team, with more camps like this in the future. And while medals are a major goal, these athletes say the blind football program gives them confidence. It’s a sport that extends far beyond the field.

“Go beyond that concern, that fear of hitting another player, hitting the wall, or missing the ball – these are skills that are actually reflected in our everyday lives,” says Catherine. “I know after a camp like this where it’s so intense for a couple of days when I go home I just feel a lot better, I feel like a Jedi, I’m not that scared on the street and it’s a great feeling. “

The blind football development camp ends on Friday evening with a scrimmage.

The U.S. men’s goalball team goes to Tokyo to play (Photo: USABA)

Another sport to watch out for in the Paralympics this weekend and next week is goalball. It’s a sport similar to soccer, but played on a smaller field. Blind athletes try to throw the ball into the opposing team’s net.

The US women’s team is so far unbeaten in Tokyo. The US men’s team had a big surprise against Brazil, which is in first place. The Americans got off to a good start in Tokyo as they continue to hunt for medals.


Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.