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Saturday, February 29, 2020

MARYLAND DEPARTMENT OF DISABILITIES: A soccer camp allowing those who can't see the chance for greatness

Local Government

By Press release submission | Jul 4, 2018

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Maryland Department of Disabilities issued the following announcement on June 28.

Wrapping up soccer camp today at The Maryland School for the Blind, the only soccer field in the nation for the blind! Have a blast!!

Sports are a way of life for people around the world. But those born with disabilities don't get to enjoy all the benefits sports can offer. That's why The Maryland School For The Blind and the U.S. Association of Blind Athletes teamed up to make winning a reality for everyone.

"This camp is what I'll call field of dreams," said Dr. Mike Bina, president of The Maryland School For The Blind.

On the special soccer field, blind and vision impaired athletes from all over the area and the world got to be just like everyone else this week.

"Sports are important. It's activities. Blind people have many, many capabilities and often they don't have a level playing field to participate in sports," Bina said.

The two organizations to start the special soccer camp, the first of its kind in the U.S.

"The United States and the Paralympics does not have a blind football/soccer team so when we were there we thought we should do something."

With drills, special balls, and especially measured fields and nets, the participants, while they can't see, can use their other senses to learn the game.

"You might think to yourself how does a blind person navigate around a field. They use a lot of communication, they talk to each other, they say the word voy which is Spanish for I'm coming," Kevin Brousard of The U.S. Association Of Blind Athletes, told WMAR 2 News.

Like all sports, coaches play a key role as well.

"You have sighted coaches that are behind the goals so when the player gets closer to the goal, they're coming down the field, the coach will yell shoot! Shoot right here!," said Brousard.

For the 40 coaches and players, it's a way to feel a part of a team.

"Sport is a wonderful opportunity to participate in life, not just from an athletic perspective. There's teamwork, there's work ethic, there's dedication communication, it develops leadership qualities," player, Kevin Brown, said.

Organizers want camps like this one to grow throughout the country, fostering athletics and inclusion.

"It breaks down the barriers, breaks down the walls perceived walls that you have in your life because you were told you're blind, you can't do this," Brousard said.

The hope is that the players and coaches will go home and start programs in the communities to build a talent pool for a U.S. Paralympic.

The session ends Thursday with a game at The Maryland School For The Blind, on the only blind soccer field in the nation.

Original source can be found here.

Source: Maryland Department of Disabilities

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