Great Britain Blind squad play host to European Champions France.
By James Marshall
Great Britain v France
2pm, Saturday 4 February & 10am, Sunday 5 February
Call 01432 376376 for tickets
Great Britain’s Blind Squad start their build up to the Paralympics with a double header against European Champions France at ThePoint4 in Hereford this weekend.
Having played alongside David Beckham in LA at the tail end of last year, the squad reconvened for a successful training camp at the Royal College last week and Head Coach Tony Larkin will be looking for his side to show an improvement in skill and fitness as the countdown to London 2012 begins.
“The players trained really hard in the camp last week, their fitness and skill has gone to the next level and we will look to put this into practice against a very good French side at the weekend,” said Larkin, who managed the England team at the 2010 Blind World Championship in Hereford.
France who are the reigning European Champions lifted the trophy last September in Turkey, and will provide a stern test for England in the build up to this summer’s Paralympics in London.
“Playing France is going to be a massive test for us this weekend, they are European Champions and have many qualities. They are very fit and strong and play full-time so it will be a good challenge for the players. They have one of the best players in the world in Frederic Villeroux he is a very talented player and has caused us problems in the past.
“We drew with them in the Euros in Turkey last September, we are improving all the time, the lads are a lot fitter and sharper after the training camp last week and have improved significantly since last year so it will make for an interesting couple of matches and provide a good benchmark as to what level were at.”
With two back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday it will give Larkin the chance to have a good look at the entire team before picking eight members of the squad to represent Great Britain and give them the chance to win a gold medal on home soil.
“All eleven players will get the chance to play this weekend, with only eight positions up for grabs at the Paralympics. It is a great incentive for players to cement a place in the side.
“It made a massive difference when we got together for the training camp last week and the team really improved, we have another camp in March and we will condense the squad down from eleven to eight after that.”
After a hugely successful World Cup in Hereford in 2010, Larkin believes that Blind Football is a sport with crossover appeal: “We really put blind football on the map after the World Cup. We have had so much interest in parents wanting their blind children to play which is brilliant. The media interest has been fantastic, it was brilliant for the lads to go out to LA and meet David Beckham who gave the lads a ringing endorsement so we’re looking for that to continue in the build up to the Paralympics.”
Kick off against France on Saturday is 2pm while the Sunday fixture starts at 10am. Tickets are just £3 for adults and £1.50 for concessions and available from thePoint4 reception team on 01432 376376.