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PlayLA Adaptive Youth Sports Program and USABA Boost Youth Participation in Visually Impaired and Blind Soccer Ahead of LA28 Paralympic Games

Posted November 18, 2023  Blind Soccer

Los Angeles (November 15, 2023) – The City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks (RAP) PlayLA Adaptive Youth Sports Program welcomed blind and visually impaired youth ages 5-17 to a series of visually impaired & blind soccer clinics, supported by the U.S. Association of Blind Athletes, for the second year in a row.
Eight consecutive clinics were held every Saturday from September 16 to November 4 at Mar Vista Recreation Center and Hubert Humphrey Recreation Center. With the guidance of Paralympic gold medalist David Brown, USA Blind Soccer Men’s National Team Head Coach Katie Smith and other distinguished coaches and volunteers, blind and visually impaired youth were given the opportunity to play blind soccer in a safe and fun environment.

This year’s clinics saw an incredible increase in participation from blind and visually impaired youth since last year, including over 30 participants who tried out the sport for the very first time. PlayLA and USABA combined efforts to reach the blind and visually impaired community across the City of LA, including collaborating with the Braille Institute, the Los Angeles Unified School District, Angel City Football Club and Wayfinder Family Services to help recruit participants and showcase the many benefits of visually impaired & blind soccer.
Returning visually impaired & blind soccer participant Ethan Jimenez (16) said: “I lost my sight at age 12 and have been blind ever since. The ability to play sports makes me feel that I’m not helpless to my disability. The sports I’ve played as a part of Play LA have opened new chances to meet other disabled people that are either in a similar circumstance to myself or have other disabilities. The feeling of a community is a feeling that can’t be expressed in words. It’s been an experience that I wouldn’t ever want to trade, and it’s my hope that others who are disabled can find the same community and feeling of togetherness with sports as I have.”
LA RAP Principal Recreation Supervisor Austin Dumas said: “The PlayLA visually impaired and blind soccer clinics truly showcase the power of sport to positively impact the lives of youth of all abilities. This year, we welcomed a record number of blind and visually impaired youth, including first-time players and our returning stars to learn valuable skills and make lasting memories that they may have never thought possible. Together with USABA, we look forward to continuing to raise awareness of blind soccer and inspiring the next generation of blind soccer players and fans ahead of the LA28 Paralympic Games.”
USABA CEO Molly Quinn said: “We want to thank everyone who joined this year’s visually impaired and blind soccer clinics. We are grateful for our continued partnership with the City of LA Department of Recreation and Parks to provide free programming and raise awareness of blind sports. And we are proud to have coaches such as Paralympic gold medalist and USA Blind Soccer National Team member David Brown leading the clinics and introducing the sport of blind soccer to the youth of Los Angeles.”
History will be made during the LA28 Paralympic Games when the USA Blind Soccer Men’s National Team will make its first-ever tournament appearance, and USABA and PlayLA are ensuring youth of all abilities from throughout the City of LA are part of the sport’s growth and benefit from this milestone.
Coinciding with the clinics was USABA’s 2023 National Blind Sports Month in October. USABA hosted the inaugural USA Blind Soccer Experience at Galaxy Park on the Dignity Health Sports Park campus on October 12. Participants had the opportunity to immerse themselves in the perspectives of blind soccer athletes by putting on eyeshades and trying out the sport. The USA Blind Soccer Men’s National Team put on a blind soccer demonstration, followed by a fireside chat with the team on what it means to represent the United States in blind soccer for the first time at the Paralympic Games.
More information about registering for future visually impaired and blind soccer clinics can be found at
Media Contact:
PlayLA: Lala Ismailova,,  (323) 246-1110
USABA: Bill Kellick, , (719) 866-3222
About the PlayLA Youth and Adaptive Youth Sports Program
PlayLA is a city-wide initiative that provides access to inclusive, year-round, quality sports programming for youth of all abilities, ages 5-17. Made possible by an investment from the LA28 Olympic and Paralympic Games Organizing Committee and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), PlayLA is the single largest commitment to youth sports development in California. It serves as a legacy before, during and after the LA28 Olympic and Paralympic Games
About U.S. Association of Blind Athletes
The mission of USABA is to empower Americans who are blind or visually impaired to experience life-changing opportunities in sports, recreation, and physical activities, thereby educating and inspiring the nation. A member organization of both the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) and U.S. Soccer, USABA is certified by the USOPC as the national governing body for the Paralympic team sports of goalball and blind soccer. The U.S. will make its Paralympic debut in blind soccer at the Los Angeles 2028 Paralympic Games. Since its founding in 1976, USABA has reached more than 100,000 individuals through its multi-sport programming. The organization has emerged as more than just a world-class trainer of blind athletes, it has become a champion of the abilities of Americans who are legally blind. Learn more at