FCSP amateur departments: Blind Football

Posted: June 23, 2015 by FCSP Athens South End Scum in Blind Football, Interviews
Tags: , , , , ,

FC_StPauli_1910_BF

FCSP_BliFu_01

Scum FCSP amateur department tour going on and this time we’re absolutely delighted to have with us one of the  departments (the other is Torball, hopefully coming up in the future) that, for reasons obvious enough to be mentioned here, are considered in a sense unique within the Brown White family. Please stand up and pay your respect to the heroes of FCSP Blind Football!

 

Unlike other sports already presented here, Blind Football is somehow unknown in Greece, probably the same way that respect to “disabled” people is unknown to a big percentage of the neoGreeks as easily someone can identify, watching parked cards occupying disabled people passage space on the street or bar tables in the Summer installed at squares on corridors designed for the blind… Thankfully, Wolf, coach of the Blind Football team, along with Michael and Serdal responded willingly to all of our questions (even the dummest ones like, “how is this played?”), providing us with a lot of knowledge on what FCSP Blind Football and blind football in general are all about. Read on, this is classy stuff:

First of all we have to admit that unfortunately we’re living in a country where the providence for disabled people varies from little to none, hence blind football here almost doesn’t exist (only 2 squads in Northern Greece we think).

Wolf: Dear Greg, yes we know about two Blindfootball Teams in Greece, one is in Athens and one is in Thessaloníki.

Can you tell us in brief what blind football is about?

Serdal Celebi: Blindfootball is a Sport in which blind people and sighted people act together. It is not possible to play Blindfootball without the others.

Wolf Schmidt: Blindfootball is the most ambitious way to play football. It means full time “no look-play” not just for one pass. Blind-football is based on the Futsal rules. We have 4 totally “blacked-out” players wearing blindfolds in each team, using a sound ball, having sideboards instead of sidelines, and a caller or Guide, one behind each goal, and the other two (each team has one) behind the board in the middle of the pitch. The pitch has the same size you need for a handball match. If you look down on a Blindfootball match from the helicopter perspective you see 8 blind players and 8 sighted people acting together.

Snapshot from the recent 1-0 league victory vs ISC Viktoria Dortmund Kirchderne

Snapshot from the recent 1-0 league victory vs ISC Viktoria Dortmund Kirchderne

The blind football department exists since 2006 but seems to be very connected with the AFM radio, starting back in 2004. Could you provide us with a short story of the department?

Michael Löffler: My wife Katja, Stefan Moers and me, established the Torball Department in FC St. Pauli (FCSP) in 2005. One year before that, my wife and me were traveling in the same train, together with the former FCSP president Corny Littmann to a Champions League away match of Manchester United in Stuttgart. Because we do appreciate very much, how football matches are live described for blind people in Old Trafford in a special reportage, we took our courage an asked Corny Littmann, if it could be possible to install the same kind of service in the Millerntor Stadion. And Yes it was possible very soon, so the first match with with live descriptive service for blind people started in April 2004 FC St. Pauli against Wuppertaler SV.

Wolf: Joachim a blind FCSP fan was standing in front of me on the Gegengerade, with the same original “matchworn” FCSP Jersey, NR 25 Scherz. My Jersey was not match worn, but it was originally from the same Player, but I got mine on a different way than Joachim, so I felt a bit guilty about this difference and started to report the match loudly for my “Scherz” Freind. His assistant said I should not stop to report the match. Kicked by the positive feedback I did send a letter to FCSP to tell them my idea to create a meeting point for blind people on which it is possible to listen to a match reportage. Some years, no answer form the Club, till I met Sven Brux, the Organization Director in the “Knust”. He was working there as Security and me as a handy man, painting and repairing and so on. I asked Sven if the Club had ever received my letter, he said no, but the club had received an offer to buy special audio technique to install so called “Hörplätze” listening places for blind people. Because I was working as a TV Camera Assistant too, I pleaded Sven to pitch an offer for the necessary audio technique. So the impulse to build up the service was given from two directions in the same time. From Users and Reporters direction.

Seems that the department is quite strong. We have lots of different squads, a strong presence in the Bundesliga, players in the German national squad and read somewhere that there’s an aspiration of being the first ever FCSP German football champion.

Michael: That is true.

Penalties over, Chemnitz out :-)

Penalties over, Chemnitz out 🙂

 I suppose that this requires (at least some) money. What’s the situation regarding the cover of running expenses? Any sponsors, personal contributions, help from the mother club, a combination of all maybe?

Michael: We have no company sponsors, but there are many private donors. There are many perspectives if and how the mother Club is supporting us. It is a matter of fact, that the Amateur-football Department is our home and the heart of the Support for the Blindfootball.

Wolf: Since we are developing young Blindfootball players also the AFM is supporting our work, and we had been winning some prices, which were donated with some money. A part of our large traveling cost is covered by the Sepp Herberger Foundation (DFB), and also by the regional disabled sports association. So it is mixture of financial support we can use.

(“Editor” note: Questions were sent before the season happy ending, still answer has its value) Things with the FCSP professional team look quite bleak at the moment and there’s a big possibility that next season we’ll play in Liga 3, with all the financial consequences that come together. Is there any risk of such a development has a negative impact on the department or the foundations are solid enough?

Wolf: Very good we have taken a bit more time to answer your very fine and detailed questions. FC St. Pauli is a professional Football Club based in the second League, and that is indeed very good. (“Editor” note: got it 🙂 )

Heard about the squad for the first time 3-4 years ago in Jolly, from fellow fans who happened to be also FCSP blind football supporters. Looks like there is fan support for the squad, at least at home games. What’s the reason behind this special support? Is this the nature of the game, mentality of the FCSP fans, squad competitiveness maybe?

Michael: There is no special Supporters Club for the Blindfootball Team. We know a bunch of people who come every year to our tournament “Keep your mind wide OPEN”. They are fascinated of our sport, and of course you find highly open minded and various interested people among the FC St. Pauli fans. On our trip to Ireland last summer, we were playing against the Irish national team in Dublin and Dixie and Kearon who are really strong FC St. Pauli supporters were taking us downtown. This feels special FC St. Pauli like.

Training session!

Training session!

A game for blind people but also with “healthy” people involved, going temporary blind and participating to the game. What’s the motive behind this, solidarity or challenge?

Wolf: If you are asking why sighted people are putting on blindfolds and than try to play football, one reason is to fill up the group of blind players in a training session. It is solidarity in the way of realizing the complete competitive match form. The other motive  you can find in sessions with no really blind players involved. Bigger groups of totally sighted persons are playing Blindfootball together to have a new experience. It is easily possible to switch between the sighted and the non sighted reality, in the great action-field of football, which is so beloved and well known. One of the very first trainings sessions of the team was supported by the FCSP professional football players, Marcel Eger, Timo Schultz, Patrick Borger and their coach Andreas Bergmann. Some years later Benjamin Adrion (VCA), Benedikt Pliquett, and our actual president Oke Göttlich were playing Blindfootball in promotional matches included into our tournament “Keep your mind wide OPEN” which will be held from 26th to 27th of September this year. Fabian Boll as the Co Manager of the U23 of FC St. Pauli with his Headcoach Remigius Elert were giving their whole team a complete Blindfootball Training session. Luckily some younger players of the Blindfootball Team were joining this session. It was amazing how upcoming football professionals and junior Blindfootball players were interacting together and in the match the Blindfootball youngsters were traveling around the pros like they were slalom poles. Blindfootball is one of the very few sports which could just be practiced, if handicapped and non-handicapped persons are acting together. This is special and a remarkable feature of this sport.

It’s been widely spread that people without vision have some of their other senses (e.g. hearing) increased. Is this in anyway true and if yes do blind people tend to be better players than people possessing vision?

Wolf: Totally blind people do much more use their sense of hearing, than partially sighted do. Spatial orientation on the pitch in Blindfootball is extremely close connected to the sense of hearing, so the people without vision do better know where they are and where the ball is, and where the opponents are. To learn special techniques in football, the partially sighted players can lift their blindfolds and watch for example how a instep shot can be done successfully.

Bucovice 2014 tournament

 

In your opinion, is German state/society in general sensitive enough towards the issues that handicapped people face?

Wolf: I think the state is trying to do the right things. For example you find the same guiding systems for blind or partially sighted people in bigger train stations in Germany made in the same way. On the other hand the so called “Inclusion” is a new and big economical slogan which is becoming a bigger and bigger money transporting issue for companies who are working in the social sector but for money profit. The interests of handicapped are often not driven by themselves. One Question. How much money will be spend on meet and great Dinners, or Celebrations for political and sport political representatives connected to Blindfootball until the first player will get the first payment for his sport. The Blindfootball sport needs money for stabilizing the base, the training sessions, the educationally work in schools, the players development. The development of new Blindfootball Teams in different cities.

Best and worst (if applicable) moments during all these years of being involved with blind football and FCSP?

Wolf: A really touching moment was in October 2012. In the Millerntor Stadium during the halftime break between FC St. Pauli – Union Berlin, when some of our players were on the pitch and did a penalty shooting to promote our tournament. Serdal was instructing the fans behind the goal at the the stands of the Südkurve to guide him. When he was dribbling  through the box, they were shouting “16”, “14”, “12”, “10”, which described his distance to the goal and then “shoot”. The goals were celebrated loud. The Tournament in Bucovice  (Late edit: Glorious 3rd place for FCSP!) (CZ) is amazing, the people there are unbelievable friendly and meeting the best blindfootball players of the world in the same time is great. Last year we had two FC St. Pauli Blindenfußball teams in our tournament. I liked a lot to coach the youngsters, they were close to win the tournament. All these highlights have dark sides too, but they are private.

Any future plans or expectations for the department? (except becoming German National champions, of course 🙂 )

Wolf: I am looking forward to see if blindfootball will appear in schools for blind children. Building up a  talent development program for young players. Developing Blindfootball coach education connected with the DFB coach education system. Trips with our team to international tournaments, having good times and fun together, for example visiting Thessaloníki or Athens.

Free section, you can add here anything you like or we should but forgot to ask 🙂

Wolf: Blindfootball could and maybe should, become a professional teamsport.

The youth squad featuring the promising youngsters Himmelmann and Kalla :-)

The youth squad featuring the promising youngsters Himmelmann and Kalla 🙂

 

Hallenmaster_Poster_Web

A BIG “Thank You” to Wolf, Michael and Serdal not only for dedicating all together time to deal with our questions but for also getting into a lot of helpful details on the one hand (we were supposed to have studied our homework but I had to read the answers in order to finally (well done Scum!) figure out that both blindfolded and not blindfolded players participate at the same time or that there’s even a Blind Football team in Athens) and mostly for being patient enough to answer again questions that are perfectly answered inside their web site (which, unfortunately for some of us, is (naturally) in German 🙂 ). Anybody fluent in German (or fluent in translators!) and interested in Blind Football should definitely take some time for a good visit. You will find not only answers to any question that anybody could have but lots of additional detailed information on the various squads and activities of the department. And for those of you that happen to be Facebook friendly, there’s also the Facebook account which is due to his nature much faster in terms of news and updates

NOT TO FORGET: The thumbnail right above is a link to the poster regarding the 2014 Keep your mind wide OPEN tournament for which you have already read a few things above. 2015 tournament is coming up on September 26th-27th 2015, it will take place in Hamburg (of course!), Borgweg 17A, home of the Friends of the blind and visually impaired children. HH readers and candidate travellers mark the dates, this is an excellent opportunity to get to know the sport if not already familiar, this is more than football, this is sportsmanship at its best!

It was more than a pleasure “talking” with the FCSP Blind Football Crew, it was a real honour. Thanks again to Wolf, Michael and Serdal, we’re really looking forward to catch some piece of action in one of our future trips towards the neighborhood 🙂

You will never play blindfolded alone – Long Live FCSP Blind Football – VIVA FC SANKT PAULI!!!

HH is BW - Blindenfussball

Web page: http://www.fcstpauli.info

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BlindenfussballHamburg

Twitter: https://twitter.com/FCSP_BliFu

e-mail: blindenfussball@fcstpauli.com

…and in case you thought it’s over, it’s not! We just received from Wolf a massive photo gallery (over 100 images) from the Bucovice 2015 tournament, that took place last weekend, with FCSP finishing gloriously 3rd. Killing stuff, a few samples below, be sure to check the entire gallery  🙂

Bucovice 2015 FCSP vs Pyrsos

Bucovice 2015 FCSP 01

Bucovice 2015 FCSP 02

Bucovice 2015 FCSP 03

Bucovice 2015 FCSP 04

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s