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University of Worcester Staff and Graduates Take on European Rivals in Bid for Rio Place

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Two graduates and a member of staff from the University of Worcester will be representing England at a major European tournament starting this weekend.

Hereford’s Royal National College for the Blind (RNC) is hosting the IBSA Blind Football European Championships, starting on Saturday, August 22.

Captaining the England side is University of Worcester graduate Keryn Seal, joined by fellow Worcester graduate Lewis Skyers, in goal, and Will Norman, a Communications Officer at the University.

All three represented Great Britain at the London 2012 Paralympic Games and will be hoping that success at this month’s European tournament will see them compete at the Rio 2016 Games.

Only the two finalists of the tournament will reach next year’s Paralympics. Earlier this year the England team won Silver at the IBSA World Games.

All three players were introduced to blind football at the University of Worcester, which enjoys a strong reputation in disability sport.

Lewis, who is one of two sighted goalkeepers in the squad, studied Sports Coaching Science at the University.

He said: “I first discovered blind football in 2009, when I was invited along to a blind football training session by one of my lecturers at university. I’d played football at various levels, including a spell with Worcester City, but I’d never seen anything like the skills and determination that these lads had.

“Things took off pretty quickly from there, and I was called up to the national squad for the first time later the same year.

“It’s been a massive challenge and a huge amount of fun over the last six years, but now it’s all come down to this, to these Euros. This is our moment to deliver.”

Keryn, a Worcester graduate in Sports Studies, added: “When I came to Worcester to study, I knew they had a strong reputation in sport, and it was clear that they had an almost unique commitment to inclusive sport. At that time, there weren’t a lot of coaches nationally with the skills and experience to coach blind football, but at Worcester they had coaching expertise, and just as importantly, other players to play with.”

He continued: “In terms of these Euros, if we do everything right, if we keep playing the way we have been over the last 18 months, and most of all, if we work hard and play for each other, there’s no reason at all why we can’t lift that trophy on August 29th. Beyond that, we’re not really thinking about Rio right now, it’s all about Hereford 2015 for us.”

England kick off their campaign against Poland in the opening match on Saturday, August 22.

The final match takes place on Saturday, August 29, the day after the opening ceremony of the European Wheelchair Basketball Championships, which are taking place at the University of Worcester Arena.

Mick Donovan, Head of the University of Worcester’s Institute of Sport and Exercise Science, said: “We are very proud to have three members of the University of Worcester community representing England in the blind football Euros and are wishing them every success in their bid for Rio. Just as we are very proud of our three students who will be representing Great Britain’s women’s team in the European Wheelchair Basketball Championships.

“It’s a fantastic time for disability sport in this region with both of these European tournaments taking place over the next three weeks and we really hope the people of Herefordshire and Worcestershire will get out and support both events and get behind the teams.”