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Legally Blind Football Player Signs with Top College Team

17-year-old Aaron Golub from Newton, Massachusetts, is legally blind. His right eye does not function at all, and he has very little vision in his left. But what he lacks in vision, the boy makes up with sheer determination. He recently achieved his lifelong dream – a chance to play football at university.

Getting a spot on a college football team is no joke, a lot of kids with perfect vision can’t make it. But Aaron, a senior at Newton High School, has gone and done it despite all the odds against him. Through sheer hard work, he’s managed to secure a preferred walk-on spot at Tulane University, one of the top college football teams in the United States. He has been signed on as a long snapper, a position that requires tremendous speed and accuracy.

While most people believe you need natural talent to be good at sports like football, Aaron was quite mediocre when he first started to play. According to his coach Chris Rubio, “He was very, very, very, we’ll say ‘average at best’ when he started. But the kid is just so determined. You tell him what to do, and consider it done.” For several years, Aaron relentlessly practiced snapping a ball into a target every morning before school and on weekends.

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Soccer Tournament for the Blind

If you thought there was no way blind people could play soccer, think again. There are even official soccer tournaments for the blind, held between national teams.

The latest tournament took place in the Sokolniki district of Moscow. Four international teams gathered for a series of matches “in the dark”. It’s hard to understand how you can play a game like soccer without seeing a thing. All the players, with different degrees of blindness, have their eyes stuck shut with a kind of band-aid and covered with a night mask that provides protection and puts them all on equal footing.

But just because their vision is impaired, doesn’t mean they can’t use their other senses to coordinate. Their developed hearing helps them locate the ball and their team-mates and guides them towards the opposite goal. The ball itself is not the kind used in normal soccer matches, it’s a lot heavier, doesn’t bounce and produces a rattle noise to alert the players to its location.

The game lasts for two 25-minute halves, in which the players, guided by their coaches and team-guides, people who sit behind opposite goal and direct players on how to approach and score. One of the most interesting things about soccer for the blind is the goalkeepers aren’t blindfolded, so they can see where the ball is going. Still, goals are scored regularly, unlike in the Eton Wall Game.

Don’t imagine the game looks anything like the normal soccer games, the players hardly ever pass long or use their heads, they mainly stick to dribbling, short passing and shooting at the goal.

Photos via Drugoi

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