Blind World Football Championship at RNC
PUBLISHED: 12:12 30 November 2010 | UPDATED: 17:50 20 February 2013
When it was announced that the Blind World Cup was coming to the county few Herefordshire people imagined it would be as special, spectacular and thrilling as it turned out to be, or that the legacy would last long after the final whistle.
The beautiful game at its best
When it was announced that the Blind World Cup was coming to the county few Herefordshire people imagined it would be as special, spectacular and thrilling as it turned out to be, or that the legacy would last long after the final whistle. Its certainly not all over, says Jenny Hulme, the events Legacy Co-ordinator
When David Clarke, captain of the England Blind Football Squad, gave the first of many interviews during this summers IBSA World Blind Football Championship, he said he hoped people would come along, not to see how a group of blind blokes played the game, but to watch great football.
He neednt have worried. The fans who purchased their ticket for the first England game on Saturday, August 14 at The Royal National College for the Blind (RNC), were so dazzled by the speed, skill and excitement of the sport that they came back for more. In fact within a couple of days tickets for the games had sold out and were like gold dust as England stormed their way into the semis. This was, said one journalist, the beautiful game at its best.
When Hereford welcomed the world
The Football Association had spent years bidding for the chance to host the tournament what would be a direct qualifier for the Paralympics in 2012 and the biggest disability football event ever to have been held in the UK and then Hereford went up against Manchester as the venue for the nine day event. Once it was confirmed it was coming to this county the work began to ensure the city was ready to welcome 10 of the best blind teams from around the world, dozens of officials, and thousands of spectators.
A city celebrates
Meanwhile the local legacy group organised a host of workshops to involve schools and businesses, helped recruit scores of volunteers to staff the tournament, teams of local children to escort players onto the pitch, and organised a series of events to celebrate the championship. The Performing Arts Department at RNC led a wonderful opening ceremony of music and dance. Football heroes Sir Trevor Brooking and Ray Clemence came to town for a chat show at The Courtyard Centre for the Arts. Dozens of community coaches travelled to the city to hear how they could promote disability sport in their area. Special tours were organised by the Cathedral. Childrens author Ian Whybrow hosted a celebratory family event. The Rural Media Company showcased its own documentary about the Blind World Cup. The Mayor of Hereford, Anna Toon, hosted a huge dinner at the tournament marquee for players, supporters and VIP guests. And Colin Murrays Radio 5 Live sports show Fighting Talk came live from the venue on semi-final Saturday.
The legacy lasts
As the stadium roared its support for England on the final Sunday (they lost in the semi-final 5-1 to champions Brazil who went on to beat Spain in the final), the organisers were committed to ensuring the legacy of the event would last long after the teams had headed for home. This is where you, and your school, business, or community group can still get involved, and be part of the preparations as the national squad prepare for London 2012.
One of the many great things about this summers Blind World Cup is the bridge it helped build between The Royal National College for the Blind and the people of Hereford, says Tony Larkin, head coach of the England squad and head of events at the college. We want that relationship to continue for many years to come.
The legacy campaign not only aimed to promote the benefits of sport to all sections of the community, but also to raise awareness of disabilities like sight loss. To improve understanding of what it means. To promote tolerance and inclusiveness. Weve loved the work weve been able to do with schools and businesses, and we want to see that continuing.
The Paralympics is just round the corner and the England squad who will represent GB in two years want your support.
Want to know more?
Email the legacy team at firstname.lastname@example.org