Blind football player teaches teens his tricks

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EX-ENGLAND blind footballer Steve Cunningham put youngsters through their paces at a training session.

Around 180 youths aged from 16 to 19 enjoyed inspirational talks and workshops at Portsmouth College, Baffins, where the star taught them to run with the ball and take penalties while blindfolded.

SKILL Steve Cunningham, with students at Goals in Portsmouth, and inset Jack Hernandez, 17, during the session. Picture: Sarah Standing (123159)

SKILL Steve Cunningham, with students at Goals in Portsmouth, and inset Jack Hernandez, 17, during the session. Picture: Sarah Standing (123159)

The students then took part in a five-a-side football match, with a sighted goalkeeper, one sighted ‘feeder’ player and three blindfolded players on each team.

Lewis Sharp, 19, of Bluebell Close, Waterlooville, said: ‘I was amazed at how hard it was.

‘You have to really concentrate and use your ear to work out where the ball is.

‘It made me realise how much work blind footballers must have to put in to play the sport, I’m so impressed – they are an inspiration.’

Jack Hernandez, 17, during the session. Picture: Sarah Standing (123159)

Jack Hernandez, 17, during the session. Picture: Sarah Standing (123159)

Steve, 49, from Warwickshire, also visited Admiral Lord Nelson School, Priory School and Springfield School to lead similar workshops.

Jake Hill, 18, of Lumsden Road, Eastney, said: ‘He (Steve) made it look so easy, but it is really difficult.

‘I watched the blind football at the Paralympics and thought it was amazing that they could be so accurate.

‘But I’m even more amazed now that I’ve tried it myself, they must be so talented.’

Steve lost his vision at the age of 12, having developed glaucoma at the age of eight.

But rather than letting it hold him back, he used his condition as a driving force to help him break a number of records, including the 100m World Junior Blind Sprint, and played on the England blind football team for nearly 20 years. He also holds the record as the fastest blind man on land and in the air.

He now has his own business, Blind Vision, which aims to help people achieve their full potential.

He said: ‘I don’t see blindness as an illness, it’s a condition that you have to understand and learn how to manage.

‘The only restrictions that come with a disability are ones from society, or from within your own head.

‘I want people to see that they can achieve what they want, no matter what other people tell them.’

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