Virginia School of the Deaf and Blind hosts the Blind Football Summit

Staunton, Virginia (WHSV) – The Virginia School of the Deaf and Blind hosted its first-ever blind football education summit this week.

“As we educate our coaches, they will be the pipeline to be the sport’s ambassador and bring this game to a community that hasn’t had this opportunity,” said Kevin Brown, Blind Sports Ambassador for the United States Association of Blind Athletes.

30 participants from 18 different states spent the week at VSDB learning how to create, teach and maintain a blind soccer team.

Some of the participants were from Clemson University where they have their own blind football team.

“Our program actually started about seven years ago and we are very supported by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs,” Margaret Domka, Ph.D. said a student at Clemson University. “When we’re out here, we’re primarily trying to get the veterans into the mix. We want to teach them how to train parasports, but also how to do parasports, so we’ve had great opportunities to offer grassroots trainings for veterans. “.

From coaching to coaching how to coach blind soccer, the past week was educational for those who attended the summit.

“The hope is to develop the sport so that it becomes a national association that includes other schools for the blind,” said Pat Trace, superintendent of Virginia School of the Deaf and Blind.

According to USABA Program Director Kevin Brousard, the general rules of the game remain the same, but there are adjustments to the noise.

In blind soccer, Broussard said, a ball with a rattle is used and players shout “foy,” which is Spanish for “go,” to establish their place on the field. The coach hits the left and right poles and calls out the center during penalty kicks and “shoots” in-game so that players can follow their pitch and make the best shot.

“It’s really just finding different sound sources across the field, you might have 10 or 12 different sounds going on simultaneously, and as a player on the field you have this changing mental image that you have to be aware of,” Kevin Broussard, Program and Finance said. USABA Director.

Participants at this week’s summit said they want to grow the grassroots of blind soccer.

“We want the core segment to grow as much as possible, and then at the national level we are developing a program for the US team, the American Blind Athletes Federation, so we want to create a team that plays at an elite level,” Broussard said. “We will start our Paralympic games for the first time at the LA 20-28 Paralympic games as well.”

Although those at this week’s summit were learning how to train blind players, some have already trained blind teams in the past and are seeing the benefits for these athletes.

“Knowing that they can do it and knowing they have the potential to be more independent and be more successful whether it’s on or off the field,” said blind soccer coach Katie Smith.

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