Hampshire FA’s Community Coach Michael Conway has revealed an alarming shortfall in the number of blind people participating in blind football.
In an exclusive interview with BUzz, Mr Conway spoke about the challenges he faces in raising the sport’s profile and the difficulties potential players have in attending sessions.
He said: “It’s a difficult one because if I knew what to do, we would have done it.
“The problem is we had one player from Basingstoke, one from Fareham, one from Southampton and one from Portsmouth.
“No matter where we did it, someone’s going to have an issue travelling. Transport costs so they couldn’t afford it.
“We had the idea of getting a minibus and going round to collect people but insurance wise, that was a bit of a nightmare so it was scrapped.
“I contacted Portsmouth’s Blind Association to see if anyone was interested in playing football. They said their youngest person that attended was 80 years old.
“The sessions in Hampshire have actually stopped now because we ran for 18 months with only two players.”
I contacted Portsmouth’s Blind Association to see if anyone was interested in playing football. They said their youngest person that attended was 80 years old”
We’re not reaching the blind people
After cancelling the football sessions in Hampshire due to low attendance, Mr Conway says the players were offered the chance to go to the nearest blind football centre in Brighton. However, as he explains, it was not a feasible option.
The FA Coach added: “One said no as it was too far to travel. The other said yes but dropped out after a while because it was a whole day’s travelling just for an hour’s football.
“I think it’s important they have an equal opportunity to play football.
“I still do taster sessions, going into schools, and there was a big increase around the Paralympics, but we’re not reaching the blind people”.
For more information about blind football in Hampshire, you can email Michael.Conway@HampshireFA.com
Read more about blind football:
Key differences between conventional and blind football
Hampshire’s blind footballers denied chance to play