Hampshire’s blind footballers are being denied the chance to play as they cannot reasonably access venues.
The lack of public transport and unrealistic journey times are being blamed, resulting in just two players turning up to a county-wide event.
Consequently, Hampshire FA have taken the decision to cancel these blind football sessions after 18 months of low attendance, although they will still provide taster classes at local schools.
Michael Conway, Hampshire FA’s Community Coach and organiser of blind football in the county, recognises travel as a major obstacle to people who may wish to play.
He said: “I spent three hours driving picking people up, two hours delivering football and then three hours dropping them off again”.
There is a dual problem as in addition to challenges in reaching a venue, Mr Conway believes there is a the lack of awareness among blind people that this type of football even exists.
AUDIO: “Are you interested in playing football? He said ‘I can’t, I’m blind'”
Mr Conway discusses the lack of awareness surrounding blind football.
I spent three hours driving picking people up, two hours delivering football and then three hours dropping them off again”
A day’s travelling for one hour of football
When the decision was made to cancel local football sessions, the nearest centre where blind people could play regularly became Brighton.
This a four-hour round trip from Bournemouth which, due to historic reasons, still comes under the Hampshire FA.
The two players who were attending sessions in the county before they were discontinued were offered the chance to play in Brighton, but it was infeasible.
Mr Conway explained: “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”.
The English Football Association were contacted for comment but have not yet responded.
Read more about blind football:
Key differences between conventional and blind football
FA Coach discusses blind football’s problems