Wembley Stadium hosts draw for Blind World Championship.
The England Blind Squad will face Spain in the opening game of the IBSA World Blind Football Championship after the tournament draw took place at Wembley Stadium on Monday.
The FA’s Director of Football Development Sir Trevor Brooking was joined by 1966 World Cup winner, George Cohen, in making the draw with Colombia, South Korea and Japan also lining up alongside England in Group A.
Group B saw holders Argentina drawn with South American rivals, Brazil, and reigning European Champions France plus China and Cameroon.
The World Championship takes place at the Royal National College for the Blind in Hereford from August 14-22.
England Head Coach, Tony Larkin, was delighted with the draw: “We’re pleased to avoid the big teams in Group B so hopefully we can hit our targets, make the semi-final, and then progress from there.
“It’s a fantastic football facility at Hereford and we can’t wait to get started. The tournament is all about raising awareness for disability sport and football as well and leaving a legacy for the local area.”
Following the draw, the England Blind Squad players went down to the Wembley pitch where they took part in a training session for media and event delegates.
George Cohen was blown away by the skill level shown by the England players: “I think these guys are absolutely fantastic and have better ball control than I did all those years ago.
“I really wish them every success at the World Championship this summer and I’ve nothing but admiration for everyone involved with the team,” said Cohen, who won 37 caps for England under Sir Alf Ramsey.
England’s World Championship group games are as follows:
England v Spain - 3pm, 14 August
England v South Korea - 7pm, 16 August
England v Japan - 7pm, 17 August
England v Columbia - 7pm, 19 August
Log onto www.blind2010.com
for the tournament's official website.
Ahead of these matches, England face a double-header against Germany this Friday and Saturday and both matches will be staged at thePoint4 in Hereford.
Monday's event was preceded by The FA’s Disability Football Strategy launch which was presented by National Disability Manager, Jeff Davis.
“Disability football has made massive steps over the last ten years and we’ve been helped by Premier League and Football League trust clubs who have really opened their doors to the disabled football community.
“County FAs are also making a massive difference around the country and embracing disability football,” said Davis, who also revealed that current disability football participation rates are 200 per cent higher than they were in 2004.Click here to download The FA’s Disability Football Strategy
With the World Football Championship in August and the London Paralympics in 2012, Davis believes that disability sport has a real opportunity to progress like never before: “These events mean that disability football and sport will be at the forefront and it’s an opportunity we just can’t miss if we’re to make a difference.
“The FA is committed to developing player pathways and finding men and women who want to get involved and realise their full potential."
“It’s a big challenge for us all but we can make it happen.”