RSBC Health and Well-being members meet Arsenal Football Club’s Ospina, Martinez and Jenkinson for a kick around with Arsenal in the Community.
Recently members of our Health and Well-being clubs were invited to the Arsenal’s training ground in St Albans. They gave the star players a masterclass in how to play blind football. While the core game remains the same as sighted football, there are alterations to make the game accessible to people with sight loss, and the Arsenal players were keen to learn the adapted rules.
The three players paid great attention to their guests as they showed them the core principles, which call for a heightened focus on verbal communication and listening during play. Players use a slightly smaller but heavier ball that contains ball bearings to help them track its movements around the pitch.
Twenty-four-year-old life-long Arsenal fan, Mahir from North London took the lead in coaching the players. Mahir is aiming to establish his own VI team with the help of the FA and RSBC. He said, “Today’s been a dream come true. I’ve followed Arsenal for as long as I can remember and getting to meet my heroes and share my love of football with them has been an incredible experience. They were actually really good at playing blindfolded, we weren’t expecting that!”
Mahir, like many of the young people, is being supported by the charity to achieve his sporting ambitions. RSBC’s Health and Well-being programme invites children and young people with sight loss to develop skills and confidence through a range of professionally led clubs across London and the South East.
Arsenal in the Community runs weekly adapted football sessions for people with visual impairment at the Arsenal Hub- Home of Arsenal in the Community, just a stone’s throw from Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal in the Community’s Disability Officer, Luke Howard said, “It is always great to get the players involved in our community work and when we get opportunities like the to show some of the obstacles disabled people face as well as the brilliant ways they can overcome them and excel it is really inspiring.”
He added, “For our participants today has been a life changing event and great recognition for their perseverance and their determination, for the players I think it has been a really great educational experience in to the lengths people will go to be involved with football. Days like today display Arsenal’s commitment to inclusivity and opportunity for everyone from fans through to first team players, irrelevant of age; gender, race, disability or sexual orientation”.
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