Ball Out of Play
A nation of football lovers, China lacks a team strong enough to reach the FIFA World Cup
Current Issue
· Table of Contents
· Editor's Desk
· Previous Issues
· Subscribe to Mag
Subscribe Now >>
Expert's View
Market Watch
North American Report
Government Documents
Expat's Eye
Photo Gallery
Reader's Service
Learning with
'Beijing Review'
E-mail us
RSS Feeds
PDF Edition
Reader's Letters
Make Beijing Review your homepage
Cover Stories Series 2014> Football Fever> Archive
UPDATED: August 8, 2013 Web Exclusive
Lust for Life
Young visually impaired soccer players chase their dreams
By Qin Zhenzi

SHOT: Li Yu, a member of Shaanxi Blind Football Team, shoots the ball during a scrimmage (QIN ZHENZI)

He kicks, and ball meets net. Applause rings in his ears, but the 17-year-old player remains still. "It went in?" he asks with a sheepish grin.

A moment later, his teammates' cheers confirm the shot connected.

Li Yu is among seven players of the Shaanxi Blind Football Team selected for intense summer training to prepare for the Fourth National Blind Football Championships in September. Their goal is to make it to the quarterfinals.

Hard establishment

The Xi'an School for the Blind and Mute (XSBM) in northwest China's Shaanxi Province formed the team in 2002. Mathematics, computer science and physical education teachers coach students between 10 and 18 years old. By average age of players, it is the country's youngest football club consisting exclusively of visually impaired players.

Forty-year-old Zhang Yi has been a fervent fan of football for dozens of years. He lost his left arm in an occupational accident in 1996 while cleaning a helicoidal pump as a concrete engineer. He has taught computer science at XSBM since 1998.

While teaching, Zhang noticed that several students would kick plastic bottles filled with sand, amused by the sound they make. More curiously, they listened to the 2012 World Cup matches on the radio with great enthusiasm.

Inspired by these children, Zhang organized the football team in 2002 with little knowledge about the development of blind football playing. They made the footballs themselves by wrapping waste paper in a plastic cloth.

In fact, blind football has already been established in Europe in the early 1990s and was a sport at the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games.

Differing from an ordinary football, the ball is equipped with a device to produce sounds for players to track. The field is much smaller than standard regulation and nominally uses solid boundaries a la indoor soccer.

Having little support from school and the government, the team subsists on meager donations from enterprises and individuals. Players wear hand-me-down "uniforms" and 20-yuan ($3.27) cleats.

The team's first foray into the national championships in 2005 ended in disappointment; they failed to score a single goal.

Coaches learned their lesson and formalized instruction. Zhang watched videos and rehearsed the standard motions, letting his students learn by tracking the movements of his legs and feet with their hands.

1   2   3   Next  

Top Story
-Join the Club
-Ball Out of Play
-Why is China Still Cheering from the Sidelines?
-Big-Data Challenge
-Keeping Cyberspace Safe
Most Popular
About BEIJINGREVIEW | About beijingreview.com | Rss Feeds | Contact us | Advertising | Subscribe & Service | Make Beijing Review your homepage
Copyright Beijing Review All right reserved