A pair of athletes have set goals for the Hampshire FA’s first visually-impaired football team.
Until now, the nearest visually-impaired football team was located in London.
Rio Paralympic hopeful Richard Twose, 35, from Fareham, and Lee Davis, 37, from Warsash, launched the team with a blind sports taster day at Horndean Technology College, Barton Cross.
The pair, who are both fully qualified coaches and are both visually impaired, have been appointed to manage, coach and run the team.
Richard, a former World Transplant Games medallist, said: ‘Lee and I have been pushing this team for over four months now.
‘We set up a Facebook page and within a few days we had ten people interested in playing. We now have more than enough players for one team so competition will be tough.
‘Some of our guys are lean and mean so it will be competitive.’
Visually impaired football is played indoors and is open to anybody who is classified as having a B2 or B3 vision.
B2 players can see movement and recognise silhouettes. B3 players have slightly better vision but still see the world through a blur.
Richard, who is classed as a B2 player, said: ‘Both Lee and I are massive football fans. I’m a die-hard Pompey supporter and Lee is a Man United fan, but I’ll forgive him for that.
‘We get on like a house on fire and we’ve already had some comments saying that our team will be ones to watch.
‘We complement each other – Lee has the ideas and I put them into action. We both can’t wait to get back on the pitch and get playing football and maybe even coach someone into the England team.’
The visually-impaired football league runs from September to April. It holds league games once a month in either Birmingham or Swindon.
There are two leagues and Hampshire will be entering division 2 which includes West Bromwich Albion VIFC 2nd Team, Tottenham Hotspur VIFC and Swansea City VIFC.
Tessa Barrett, CEO of Open Sight a Hampshire charity, said: ‘This is a fantastic step for the visually impaired people of our county.
‘There are giant leaps being made to allow people to access a wider range of activities and Hampshire FA must be congratulated. We will give them all of our support and wish them all the best.’
Martina Heath, football development officer for Hampshire FA, said: ‘This team will help support the development work that Hampshire FA have been delivering.
‘This is a really exciting time for disability football and shows the legacy of the Paralympic Games is starting to take shape.’
The football team is deciding on where it will regularly train and is negotiating a regular training ground.
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