The ball rattles, opponents must call as they go in to tackle, and miraculously nobody crashes! This is blind football.
My children just spent an afternoon learning how to play football blind-folded with the GB Paralympic Football coach, Gary Knight. I love any challenge that takes people out of their comfort zone – then any success is so much sweeter.
If I can do this – what else can I do that I didn’t think I could?
For my children, trying to play a sport blind-folded was fun, and an interesting exercise. It also make them consider how it might be for those who do not have the choice to take the blindfold off at the end of the session. They realised that for those who are visually impaired, acquiring the skills to live and play is more urgent and less recreational.
I imagine that being without a limb, or sight, or easy coordination, it would be very easy to limit your expectations of what is possible. The tasks of daily living would be testing enough. It is admirable to then aim to be better than those of us without that disability.
Thing is, we all limit our expectations of what we can do. We hold ourselves back through lack of self-belief, or finances, or opportunity, or willingness to expend effort.
We all have our ‘disabilities’ – some more obvious and some more debilitating. The Paralympics gives us the chance to see that sometimes the most crippling disadvantages can be overcome; more than overcome. People can excel despite the things that hamper, or even because of them.
Challenges can strengthen us. A lot depends on how we approach an obstacle. Those that find their way through, must decide at some point that they can and will. This determination is greatly aided by the support of others. If those around me believe something possible, it helps me to believe it too.
This is the gift that the paralympians bring to us. They lead the way, demonstrating the awesome results of human self-belief and endeavour.
Not only did my children learn a bit about how to kick a ball that you cannot see but more importantly they now appreciate a little more keenly some of the challenges that a visually impaired person faces, and the courage that is required to overcome them. I hope that they have also been given some insight into what can happen when you push against the limit of what you feel you are capable of. And they had fun. Thank you Sainsbury’s for sponsoring the event and Mumsnet for inviting us.
The Olympics inspire. The Paralympics inspire more.