They wore their team colours of green or blue, t-shirts and shorts, blindfolds to stop any cheating and thick fur headbands that looked more suitable for a Russian winter than the final of a futsal competition in Pattaya.
This was the final game at the recent annual School for the Blind sports day. Everyone knows what football is, many play futsal, but not everyone will know how a blind person plays the game.
They wear blindfolds to ensure those who have some sight are not at an advantage. The goalkeeper doesn’t wear a blindfold and has some sight and it is he who guides the players. They wear the thick headbands to prevent injury if the players collide with each other.
While the head is protected, the rest of the body is open to injury, especially when the hard plastic ball, with a small bell inside so the players can hear its location, is kicked as hard as possible and hits another player.
The aim of the game is to score, and with practice the players can work out the location of the goals, and as the spectators are asked not to cheer, to be as quiet as possible, then the bell inside the ball can be heard.
While the futsal final was the last competition to be played that day, the games were officially opened by former Mayor of Pattaya, Niran Wattanasartsathorn, while the official gong was banged by Dr. Otmar Deter from the Dolphin Pattaya Rotary Club. The flame was carried by a student who recently traveled to Indonesia as part of the national Thai Goalball team.
The blind and visually impaired students enjoy sports just as much as sighted children. Not only do they play futsal, goalball, swimming and athletics, but judo and volleyball is also part of the school sports curriculum.