(October 26, 2022) – The U.S. Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) is holding a team selection camp, Oct. 27-30, in Chula Vista, Calif., with 13 players with visual impairments and three sighted goalkeepers vying to earn a spot on the first-ever USA Blind Soccer National Team. From that pool of athletes, eight players will join two goalkeepers to form the U.S. team that will begin international competition in 2023, the first step on the journey to competing at the Los Angeles 2028 Paralympic Games.
“By naming this first-ever national team, it allows USABA to continue building blind soccer across the country,” said USABA CEO Molly Quinn. “Having elite-level athletes in the sport provides engagement and empowerment opportunities for both youth and adults.”
The sport of blind soccer has been part of the Paralympic Games since 2004, but the U.S. has never fielded a team. That will all change in 2028 when Los Angeles plays host to the Olympic and Paralympic Games and the U.S. will receive an automatic entry into the blind soccer competition as the host country.
“In the next six years, the world’s two biggest sporting events will happen on American soil,” added Quinn. “In 2026, the FIFA World Cup will be played throughout the U.S. for the first time in three decades. In 2028, the Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games will take place in Los Angeles. It will mark the first time that L.A. has played host to the Paralympic Games.”
Thirteen athletes and three goalkeepers will be evaluated during the camp and through video from previous events, with the final team announcement being made on Tuesday, November 1. Leading the camp will be USA Blind Soccer Head Coach Katie Smith (Columbus, Ohio) along with assistant coaches Fil Wilkinson (Mooresville, N.C.) and Ryan Lazaroe (Slidell, La.).
“Earlier this year we held two talent identifications selection camps to get to this pool of athletes,” Smith said. “There is such incredible talent within this group and as coaches, we look forward to seeing the progression the athletes have made since our last camp. With our experienced coaching staff, we are excited to assess the talent level and build camaraderie within this first-ever USA Blind Soccer Men’s National Team.”
The four-day camp includes two scrimmages on Friday and Saturday that are open to the public and media. Both scrimmages will be held from 4-5 p.m. PDT at the Salt Creek Community Park Soccer Arena located at 2710 Otay Lakes Road. The scrimmages will be overseen by international referees Skye Arthur-Banning (Pendleton, S.C.)and Margaret Domka (Clemson, S.C.).
USA Blind Soccer Men’s National Team Selection Camp Roster
Noah Beckman (Columbus, Ohio)
David Brown (Chula Vista, Calif.)
Kevin Brown (Falls Church, Va.)
Ricardo Castaneda (Fort Worth, Texas)
Charles Catherine (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
Antoine Craig (Richmond, Va.)
Tanner Gers (Tucson, Ariz.)
Cody Kirchner (New Brunswick, N.J.)
John Marquez (Fort Worth, Texas)
Alvaro Mora (Phoenix, Ariz.)
Jefferson Palacios (Baltimore, Md.)
Ahmed Shareef (Staten Island, N.Y.)
Casimir Werda (Novi, Mich.)
Brandt Herron (Jacksonville, Fla.)
Kyle Knott (Brevard, N.C.)
Elijah Tejeda (San Diego, Calif.)