BY Dollita Okine, 1:30pm May 22, 2023,

Blind football sport in South Sudan offers a vision for the future of visually-impaired football enthusiasts

The Club is one of a very few teams set up in South Sudan’s capital to cultivate the talents of visually impaired football players. Photo Credit: Facebook: South Sudan blind football

The Juba Boys Football Club started in 2020 and is currently actively participating in the country’s first-ever blind football league according to Africa News. The Club is one of the very few teams set up in South Sudan’s capital to cultivate the talents of visually impaired football players.

As a sport, ‘blind Football’ is still in its young stage in the country, however, its organizers anticipate their teams’ participation in regional games.

CNA recounts the story of Mubarak Joseph Hilary, who lost his sight at 15. He quit school and his love for football, and lived his life indoors until he came across the Juba Boys Football Club. He recalls being unhappy and lonely until he discovered the club. Now 27, he captains the team, feeling free and happy.

 In total, four football clubs are participating in the league, which commenced last month.

One might ask, how do the blind play football? Each team consists of four visually impaired players who are assisted by two sighted goalkeepers, guides, and a referee; with a jingling bell placed on the ball to help the players follow its movements.

The players are told to yell “Voy” which means “go” in Spanish when tackling their opponents to alert them and reduce match-induced injuries during the competitions. Also, loud sounds emit from the goalpost to assist the players aim their shots.

Charles Pascal Clement, Chairperson of the Blind Football Association admitted that the beginning was hard. He said, “Many of us thought it was a crazy idea. How can a person, visually-impaired, total, who is not seeing, how can he or she play football? This is what we first thought. The association quickly mobilized young visually-impaired youth, and then we were able to introduce a system of blind football.”

The blind football team has grown from two players to more than 80 players who come together for matches in Juba. They have plans to reach other parts of the country as well as one day competing in the Paralympic Games.

Head Coach, Simon Madol Akol, spoke of the toils of the visually impaired in society. He disclosed that “They are considered as people who don’t have a lot of things to do. In most sports, they are excluded. So, for us, we see that this sport can really bring people with visual impairment back to the field. Now they have space to communicate with those who are not visually impaired… so, the trauma and all the bad things that were in someone’s mind can be taken away.”

In addition to their physical challenges and the hard economic, insecurity, and climatic situations the country currently faces, the visually impaired in South Sudan society also encounter discrimination and unequal access to opportunities. The emergence of the team brings a form of relief to the visually impaired society.

Hilary, the team captain revealed that the team had endured many criticisms; he said, “I used to face them because they kept on telling us that we wouldn’t benefit from playing football. It is not because we are blind that we have lost everything in our life, what a person who can see can do, is the same as what a blind person can do., and we blind people can even do it better.”

Today, Joseph Mubarak Hilary operates a home-run tobacco kiosk and has a budding career in the blind football team. He has returned to school with the profits from his business. He proudly admits that “I now know that I can do many things that were impossible.”

Last Edited by:Editor Updated: June 11, 2023


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