Blind Team back in action in February.
England v Russia
The Point4, Hereford
7.30pm, Friday 18 February 2011
3pm, Saturday 19 February 2011
Ticket details - call The Point4 on 01432 376376
The England Blind Squad are back in action for the first time since last summer’s World Championship when they take on Russia in a pair of friendlies at Hereford’s The Point4 football facility on February 18 and 19.
England finished fourth at the World Championships, also at The Point4, after defeats to the eventual winners, Brazil, at the semi-final stage and China in the third place play-off.
And 2011 is set to be another big year for the team with the IBSA World Games in April and the European Championship in July.
“Looking back, the World Championship was a great tournament for us but we were a little disappointed to lose to China in the playoff. They had more possession than us but we probably had the better chances in the game,” said England’s Head Coach, Tony Larkin.
The Blind World Football Championship saw almost 9,000 fans attend the week-long tournament in August with a special all-seater stadium built around the existing 3G pitch at The Point4 to accommodate over 900 supporters every day.
However, next month’s friendlies against Russia will move to The Point4’s indoor arena to escape the UK’s unpredictable winter weather: “The indoor capacity is 300 so hopefully the two games will give everyone the opportunity to attend. The people of Hereford really got behind the team at the World Championship and we’re looking forward to two sell-out matches against Russia,” added Larkin.
Russia, along with Germany and Italy, have made a bid to host the European Championship in the summer and the two fixtures will coincide with the Russian delegation conducting a research trip on Blind Football in England: “Russia are new to Blind Football but they came over to watch the World Championship and these two games will coincide with another study trip.
“They’ve got plans for a dedicated football facility in Moscow so will be hopeful of winning the European Championship hosting bid,” said Larkin, who oversees sport and recreation at the Royal National College for the Blind after a professional football career with Wrexham, Shrewsbury Town, Carlisle United and Hereford.
England have kept the nucleus of the squad that competed in the World Championship with Steve Cushion (Sighted Goalkeeper), Craig Lundberg, Owen Bainbridge and Lee Brunton all added to the squad to make a 14-man training camp before Larkin eventually whittles the team down to the players who will compete at the two big tournaments this year.
“The World Games take place in Turkey and it will be the first time we’ve been to that as Blind Football used to be Under-21 only before IBSA made it an open-age tournament, “ said Larkin.
“But the big one for us is the European Championship. We’ve been runners up seven times in that tournament over the years and we’re all eager to go that extra mile and finish as winners.”For more information on tickets for the Russia games, contact The Point4 on 01432 376376.England Training SquadSighted Goalkeepers
Lewis SkyersOutfield Players