Uttarakhand hosts football meet for visually challenged

Dehradun, Apr 1 (PTI) A football tournament for the visually challenged, a first of its kind for Uttarakhand, was kicked off at the Maharana Pratap Sports Stadium here on Saturday with teams from Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Delhi apart from hosts participating in the two-day event.
     For those who had never watched a football event for visually impaired, it was a unique experience to watch players entering the ground wearing eye shades and eye patches to take on their opponents.
     A football match for the visually challenged is played for 30 minutes with 15 minutes per half.
     There are four outfield players, one goalkeeper and a goal guide on each side. The goalkeeper and the goal-guide are players with normal eye-sight.
     As the degree of visual impairment may vary from one player to another they have to wear eye patches or eye shades for the sake of fair competition.
     As the outfield players have to rely on their sense of sound only to latch on to the ball it is filled with a lining of bells which make a sound when the ball is in movement.
     In Saturday's matches in the men's category Uttarakhand trounced Punjab 6-0, Delhi defeated Madhya Pradesh 2-0 and Uttarakhand outplayed Delhi 1-0.
     The outing between Madhya Pradesh and Punjab ended in a goalless tie.
     In the women's category Uttarakhand defeated Madhya Pradesh 1-0 and Delhi defeated Uttarakhand 1-0. Another outing between Madhya Pradesh and Delhi ended in a goalless tie.
    The spectators which included state Social Welfare Minister Chandan Ram Das and Chairperson of Uttarakhand Commission for Protection of Child Rights Geeta Khanna appreciated the indefatigable spirit of the visually challenged players, who had decided to turn a physical disadvantage into an opportunity in excel in life.
     Das praised the organisers for holding an event like this and promised to give all his support for the creation of better training facilities for the blind in different sporting disciplines.
     "It is a unique endeavour. The organisers of the event and the coaches who work so hard on honing the skills of the visually challenged players deserve all the praise for what they have done. Able bodied youngsters should learn from the visually challenged footballers the art of how to change a physical disadvantage into an advantage," the Cabinet Minister told PTI. PTI ALM

(This story has not been edited by THE WEEK and is auto-generated from PTI)