An International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Football training workshop involving local players and coaches in Portugal has been described as “highly successful” by organisers.
The camp, held in Lausada, located in the northern area of the country, was attended by coaches, players, physical education teachers and representatives from nearby Porto Football Club, one of the nation’s most successful domestic sides.
It was arranged within the UEFA-funded IBSA Blind Football Development Project Europe and organised in partnership with the Portuguese Disability Sports Federation (FPDD).
One of the main aims was to help Portugal return to competing in the sport after they dropped off the international stage in 2005.
They competed in the IBSA Blind Football European Championships from 1997 to 2005 but have yet to make a return to international competition.
The workshops began with a series of presentations by the FPDD and IBSA on blind sports, before the first training session of the weekend took place.
The participating players were then put through their paces in a series of drills the following day, while full-sighted players were given blindfolds in order to experience being a blind footballer.
“This weekend has certainly served our purposes and it has gone even better than we expected - we can see we have good players, managers and coaches and we’re very enthusiastic,” FPDD President Mario Lopes said.
“We have learnt a lot from the IBSA experts who came to visit us.
“We knew we had to put some work into developing blind football because it’s what our members want, and this weekend has been a huge encouragement for us.
“We would like to thank IBSA for all its assistance, the quality of the coaching and its willingness to help us.
“We also appreciate the support from Lausada council and the Luis Figo Football Academy.”
Spanish coach José Carratalá, who led one of the training sessions, hailed the impact of the IBSA Blind Football Development Project.
“It’s evident the project is effective because we can see the positive results,” he said.
“New emerging teams are appearing constantly and blind football is stronger for that.
“Blind football should be an option for all blind and partially sighted people in every European country because it is one of the most popular Paralympic sports.
“The project should also be replicated in other continents with backing from other regional football federations and from FIFA.”