Partially Sighted and Blind squads in Euro action in July.
There’s a busy summer of disability football ahead for England sides with both the Partially Sighted and Blind squads in European Championship action.
The Blind squad are currently preparing for their tournament campaign in Nantes, France next month with training sessions at the brand new Royal National College for the Blind football facility.
And John Ball, the Assistant Coach, is hopeful that England can enjoy a decent tournament against Europe’s finest: "We’ve drawn France, Germany and Italy in the group stages but we’re probably starting the tournament as second favourites behind Spain so there aren’t too many nations who’ll relish playing us that’s for sure," he said.
Blind football is a 5-a-side game with sighted goalkeepers and this year’s European Championship has seen the International Blind Sports Association sanction the games to be played on grass rather than the usual Astroturf.
"It’s not a surface that we play on normally but the grass will be cut down short so we’re confident that we can adapt and play our usual passing game," Ball continued.
"The last time we played France we beat them 2-1 and qualified for the Paralympics in the process and we’ve also beaten Italy recently although it was a tight game and we had to rely on a last minute winner.
"Germany are quite new to the game so we don’t know too much about them but I’m sure they’ve been working with their players and improving steadily in the lead up to the Euros."
The other group features Spain, Turkey, Greece and Belarus who Ball believes could surprise a few people: "I’ve got a feeling that Belarus will be strong in this tournament as they’ve been decent at B2/3 level so no-one will be underestimating them."
England Blind Squad
David Clarke – Captain