International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) officials travelled to Belarus this weekend to conduct training sessions with local blind football players and coaches in a bid to continue the expansion of the sport in Europe.
Held as part of the UEFA-supported IBSA Blind Football Development Project Europe, it is hoped the training sessions will encourage Belarus to set up a national blind football team and start playing the game internationally.
IBSA officials will set out a roadmap to assist Belarus, which has been identified as one of the emerging countries in Europe and already has blind football teams and national competitions.
As well as Belarus, the IBSA Blind Football Development Project Europe has been working with several other emerging countries in recent months, and has supplied balls and eyeshades to countries such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Portugal, Albania, Montenegro and Bulgaria.
Earlier this year, a two-day training course was held in Finland's capital Helsinki which saw experienced international coaches working with local players, coaches and referees across a series of sessions.
It came soon after a visit was paid by IBSA to neighbouring Sweden for a similar initiative, demonstrating increased interest from Nordic countries in playing blind football.
In August, IBSA staged its inaugural blind football European youth camp in Hamburg.
The event was organised by the IBSA Blind Football Committee in partnership with German club FC St Pauli Blindenfussball and was attended by players and coaches from Spain, Germany, Hungary, Austria and Georgia.
It involved training sessions, headed by German national coach and IBSA Blind Football Committee chairman Ulrich Pfisterer, where players picked up a variety of skills, including communications and tactics.
The attendees, some of whom had only been playing blind football for a short amount of time, also improved their ball skills and their ability to deal with certain in-game situations.
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