UK Sport have awarded the England Blind squad £1.3m in preparation for the Paralympics
The England Blind Squad celebrated a new £1.3m award from UK Sport ahead of their international against Germany at St. George’s Park.
Awarded through National Lottery funding, the money will be used by the England Blind Squad and the GB Disability Football Association in preparation for the 2016 Paralympics in Rio.
This afternoon’s friendly fixture is the team’s first match action since representing Great Britain at the London 2012 Paralympics and marks Graham Keeley’s debut as the England Blind Squad’s new Head Coach.
The FA’s Head of Disability Football, Jeff Davis, said: “The FA has been funding Blind Football for over a decade so this extra money is a fantastic boost for the sport as it means that our players can now access regular training camps with an overall aim of winning medals at international tournaments.
“We’re massively grateful to UK Sport as they’ve given us a wonderful opportunity to implement a world class training programme for our visually impaired footballers which is vital if we’re to compete against the likes of Brazil, France and Spain on the sport’s biggest stages such as the 2016 Paralympics in Rio.”
Liz Nicholl, CEO of UK Sport, added: “UK Sport is investing record funds in British athletes’ preparations for the next summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio in 2016, thanks to The National Lottery and Government support.
"The ambition is to win more medals in Rio than were won in London and we’re delighted to support the GB Blind Football squad, as part of our World Class Performance Programme on the road to Rio, with an investment of £1.3m.”
Blind Football has made headlines over the last 18 months with David Beckham helping to promote the sport in the lead up to London 2012 while Great Britain’s Blind Football fixtures at Stratford’s Riverbank Arena were sold out throughout the Paralympics.
Last Saturday’s FA Cup with Budweiser Final saw former England and Great Britain Blind Football captain David Clarke present the trophy to Wigan Athletic’s winning skipper, Emerson Boyce.