Shillong: India's Blind Football team, groomed by the 'Society for Rehabilitation of the Visually Challenged' (SRVC), an NGO based in Kochi, is conducting an orientation camp along with a training session on Blind Football for the North East region. This initiative is supported by Tata Trusts, who have come forward to help the team promote the global sport and give them an opportunity to participate at the event. The camp is conducted by the Indian Blind Football Federation (IBFF), an independent blind football body working with the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) to develop the game across the country. A first of its kind, the Blind Football session in the North East region has participants from Guwahati, Imphal, Tura, Shillong and from Kolkata. The participants were identified by SRVC and IBFF during an awareness tour conducted in September 2016.
Speaking at the event, Anand Datla, Head - Sports, Tata Trusts, said, "Tata Trusts has a decade long history of being associated with sports in a multitude of ways. By supporting this venture, Tata Trusts is enabling visually challenged individuals to demonstrate their sporting talent. We are creating awareness about the challenges and unique abilities of the differently abled, helping promote social inclusion. This is a great opportunity for the team to demonstrate their skills in the international arena."
The camp has attracted significant interest which includes developing a blind football referee unit for the region, which will help develop further interest in the game in the region. This will be followed by a National Selection Camp at Kochi from 12 to 30 November as the final team gets trained and selected for the first Tri Nation B1 Blind Football Tournament. The tournament will be held in Kochi from 1 – 4 December, 2016 – Malaysia and Laos have also confirmed their participation.
On this occasion, Biswanath Sinha, Associate Director, Tata Trusts, said, "Tata Trusts launched the Northeast Initiative Development Agency (NEIDA) and Centre for Microfinance & Livelihood (CML) to spur development in the north-east region, through enhanced livelihood opportunities, improved agricultural practices and sustainable use of natural resources. A critical component of the two associate organisations is to reimagine the future of around 75,000 households in the next five years, of which community development through mediums such as sports is an integral part".
Carmo Naronha, Executive Director Bethany Society Shillong said, "Organising the first ever blind football interaction and awareness camp in September, followed by the intensive training camp in October with IBFF & SRVC has helped get the game the necessary exposure. This has also brought to the fore blind football talents helping them get recognised and integrated into society. We are hoping more such camps can be conducted across the North East to help develop a world class national team. Bethany society is happy to play host to such an initiative."
SRVC has been working with the economic rehabilitation efforts of the visually challenged since 2002. SRVC helped put together the First Indian Blind Football team in August 2013. India, currently ranked at number 25 in the world, reached the semi-finals and finished fourth in its first ever international tournament in August 2013. India participated at the Rio Paralympic Qualifiers at Tokyo, Japan in Sept'15, which was also supported by Tata Trusts. By popularizing football for the visually challenged, Tata Trusts seeks to champion the cause of the differently-abled – their right to sports, entertainment and quality life. The collaboration between Tata Trusts and the Indian blind football team has benefitted the players and has helped recognize them globally.
The team has been coached by Sunil J Mathew, MC Roy is the Team Manager and Loo WK from Malaysia, will be helping with the training camp in October and November 2016.
About Tata Trusts
Tata Trusts is amongst India's oldest, non-sectarian philanthropic organizations that work in several areas of community development. Since its inception, Tata Trusts has played a pioneering role in transforming traditional ideas of philanthropy to make impactful sustainable change in the lives of the communities served. Through direct implementation, co-partnership strategies and grant making, the Trusts support and drive innovation in the areas of education; healthcare and nutrition; rural livelihoods; natural resources management; enhancing civil society and governance and media, arts, crafts and culture. Tata Trusts continues to be guided by the principles of its Founder, Jamsetji Tata, and through his vision of proactive philanthropy, the Trusts catalyses societal development while ensuring that initiatives and interventions have a contemporary relevance to the nation. For more information, please visit: http://www.tatatrusts.org/
About Blind Football
Blind Football is a five-a-side football for athletes with visual impairments including blindness. The sport, governed by the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA), is played with modified FIFA rules. The field of play is smaller, and is surrounded by boards. Teams are reduced to five players, including the goalkeeper, per team. Teams may also use two guides, who is positioned off the field of play, to assist in directing players. The ball is equipped with a noise-making device to allow players to locate it by sound. Matches consist of two 25-minute halves, with a ten-minute break at half-time.
Football 5-a-side players are assigned to one of three sport classes based on their level of visual impairment: B1 - Totally or almost totally blind; from no light perception up to light perception but inability to recognise the shape of a hand. B2 - Partially sighted; able to recognise the shape of a hand up to a visual acuity of 2/60 or a visual field of less than 5 degrees. B3 - Partially sighted; visual acuity from 2/60. According to the latest IBSA rules the goalkeeper needs to compulsorily belong to the B3 category (partially sighted). So ALL players on the field are visually challenged and belong to any of the B1, B2 or B3 category.
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