Thursday, 23 June 2016
Staff, students and alumni from the University of Worcester have won a major international blind football tournament in the Czech Republic.
The team took on and defeated some of Europe’s finest sides on their way to victory in the fourth Bucovice Blind Football Cup, a tournament involving clubs across Europe that play in their own national leagues.
The competition, held by Masaryk University in the south of Moravia, is considered to be the best international club competition for blind football.
Although the University of Worcester side have competed in all the three previous tournaments, players had only ever managed a bronze medal.
The University team consisted of: Head Coach and Senior Lecturer in Sports Coaching Science David Mycock, graduate Keryn Seal, staff member Will Norman and Masters student Conor McAteer, who was acting as the guide.
England players Robin Williams, Dan James, Roy Turnham, and Jon Heenan were also on the team along with Darren Harris.
Their competitors included sides from the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Greece and Poland.
In the group stages they defeated Anderlecht, from Belgium, 1-0, ASD Liguria from Italy, 2-1 and St. Pauli FC, from Germany, 2-0.
The following day they beat Pirsos Thessaloniki from Greece 2-0 in the semi-final before going on to win the final 2-0 against the pre-tournament favourites and German Bundesliga Champions, Marburg FC.
The core game of blind football remains similar to the standard game, but it is played on a smaller pitch.
There are five team players, four blind and one sighted goalkeeper.
Ball bearings are placed in the ball to allow players to locate it by sound.
The University of Worcester side, who were FA National Futsal League Champions in four out of six years, have developed the game alongside the work of the English FA and the Royal National College for the Blind based in Hereford.
Mr Mycock said: “Some of the players and coaches from Worcester have become the first full time FA professional team in disability football and this win is a landmark occasion for them and the sport in the UK as a whole.
“This was an amazing trip which epitomises everything that is good about the people who are connected to the University of Worcester.
“The University has been quietly leading the way not only in developing players, analysts and coaches in disability sports but in helping other people reach their potential.”
Mr Seal added: “The strength and depth in European blind football is pretty awesome, not only at the international level, but at the club level too.
“Many of the clubs here could give most international teams a good game.
“Although many of the players in the Worcester team are now full England internationals, the University of Worcester is where it all started for us, and so it’s great to be able to take the club we love overseas, and enjoy this kind of success.”