LOS ANGELES (August 14, 2023) – For the second year, the U.S. Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) will support the City of Los Angeles Recreation and Parks Department (LA RAP) to offer visually impaired and blind soccer clinics as part of the PlayLA Adaptive Youth Sports Program.
The free clinics are designed for blind and visually impaired youth ages 5 to 17, with all skill levels welcome to participate. Clinic participants will be taught blind soccer fundamentals, drills, gameplay and communication by coaches and members of the USA Blind Soccer Men’s National Team.
The clinics will be held every Saturday from September 16 through October 7 at Mar Vista Recreation Center (11430 Woodbine St., in Los Angeles) and October 14 through November 4 at Hubert H. Humphrey Recreation Center (12560 Filmore St., in Pacoima). They will run from 9-10:30 a.m. each Saturday.
The sport of blind soccer has been part of the Paralympic Games since 2004. Out of the 22 sports represented in the Summer Paralympic Games, blind soccer is the only sport without U.S. representation. At the LA28 Paralympic Games, the U.S. team will make history and receive an automatic bid into the blind soccer tournament as the host country.
“We are excited to be back for our second year of building blind soccer in Los Angeles,” said USABA CEO Molly Quinn. “Through our continued partnership and engagement with LA RAP, we aspire to provide access to sport and recreational opportunities for blind and visually impaired youth and possibly identify a future Paralympian who will compete for Team USA at the LA28 Games.”
A key milestone in USABA’s 46-year history came in January 2022 when the organization was officially named by the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee as the National Governing Body for blind soccer. In collaboration with U.S. Soccer, USABA has launched seven Building Blind Soccer sites across the country, including Los Angeles, to help to grow the sport. In November of 2022, USABA named the first-ever USA Blind Soccer Men’s National Team. After several training camps, the U.S. team hosted Canada in a pair of international friendlies in March in Chula Vista, Calif., emerging victorious in both contests, with the opener live-streamed around the world.
Helping lead the blind soccer clinics in the Los Angeles area will be Paralympic gold medalist and USABA Blind Soccer Sport Ambassador David Brown. A three-time Paralympian in track & field and the 2016 gold medalist in the 100 meters, Brown is a member of the USA Blind Soccer Men’s National Team.
“The amazing feedback we received from last year’s clinics was incredibly fulfilling,” said Brown. “It doesn’t matter if you are sighted or visually impaired, blind soccer is a sport in which anyone can participate and instantly know what to do…you just have to get used to the blacked-out eyeshades. For these clinics to be in the LA area raises awareness of the sport being part of the LA28 Paralympic Games and that there is a sport for the blind in which individuals can participate and feel part of a team. What participants can learn from this sport is teamwork, communication, confidence and the feeling of acceptance.”
Through the PlayLA Adaptive Youth Sports Program, youth of all abilities are provided access to a variety of adaptive sports programming at their local recreation centers and neighborhood facilities. The first-of-its-kind program for the City of LA aims to remove barriers to participation in sport and contribute to the lasting positive legacy of the LA28 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
LA RAP Principal Recreation Supervisor Austin Dumas said: “We are incredibly excited for the return of visually impaired and blind soccer clinics this fall as a part of the PlayLA Adaptive Youth Sports Program. With the support of our valued partner USABA, we look forward to introducing more kids with disabilities to the many benefits of adaptive sports and helping inspire and foster the next generation of blind soccer stars in the leadup to the LA28 Paralympic Games.”
For more information on the blind soccer clinics and to register, visit the PlayLA Adaptive Youth Sports Program website.
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 www.usaba.org/.
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.