Coaches and athletes from across the U.S. converged on Rock Hill, S.C., July 8-10, to take part in a blind soccer talent identification camp. The event was organized by the United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) in conjunction with the Charlotte Independence Soccer Club. The camp consisted of three full days of training with two on-field sessions each day. Camp participants also attended the July 8 game between the Charlotte Independence and the Richmond Kickers.
“As the newly-certified national governing body for blind soccer in the U.S., we are fast-tracking our talent identification with camps around the country,” said USABA Program Director Kevin Brousard. “This camp in Rock Hill provided us with a good mix of experienced athletes from previous camps alongside some newcomers to the sport.”
Blind soccer is an adaptation of soccer for athletes with visual impairments. The sport is played in 60 countries and has become the fastest-growing Paralympic sport in the world. In January, the USABA received the highest level of certification from the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee to be the national governing body (NGB) for the Paralympic sport of blind soccer. Globally known as blind football, the sport has been part of the Paralympic Games program since 2004. The U.S. will be making its Paralympic debut as the host country of the Los Angeles 2028 Games and the camp in Rock Hill was an important step in identifying talented athletes for the first-ever USA Blind Soccer National Team to be named in October. The first international competition for the inaugural USA Blind Soccer Team will be this December in Guatemala at the IBSA Central American Championships.
Among the 12 athletes participating was three-time Paralympic track & field athlete David Brown (Chula Vista, Calif.). Brown was the 100-meter gold medalist at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games and was the first totally blind athlete to run under 11 seconds when he clocked 10.92 in 2014. Fil Wilkinson, director of community engagement for the Charlotte Independence and director of adult soccer for Rock Hill, was one of three coaches directing the camp.
For more information on how the game of blind soccer is played, visit https://www.usaba.org/sports/blind-soccer/paralympic-sport/ or watch video HERE.
Noah Beckman (Dublin, Ohio)
David Brown (Chula Vista, Calif.)
Kevin Brown (Falls Church, Va.)
Ricardo Castaneda (Fort Worth, Texas)
Meghan Grenda (Redlands, Calif.)
Cody Kirchner (New Brunswick, N.J.)
Jadyn Heilman (Oakland, Calif.)
Alvaro Mora (Phoenix, Ariz.)
Jasmine Murrell (Plainfield, N.J.)
Jefferson Palacios (Baltimore, Md.)
Ahmed Shareef (Staten Island, N.Y.)
Casimir Werda (Novi, Mich.)
Sheena Hager (Chicago, Ill.)
Katie Smith (Columbus, Ohio)
Philip Wilkinson (Charlotte, N.C.)