Meet the man who introduced blind football to Uganda.
Ugandia, the capital of Uganda, has always been a football mad town.
But until a few years ago they didn’t have the option. Football, even the blind one, was not popular with the masses. There was no sport, not even the ability to play it as a youth – you had to be either born with sight or be educated.
It was thought that blind people would be better suited to the football field and it’s easy to see why.
“They have never seen the ball and they have never seen the goal. The only thing they know about football is the goals and the players on the field. They have no idea how the game works, why you score or if you score or miss. They’ve never been involved in a match. When you bring them in, you have to talk about goals and the player’s names. There’s no education in sight football. There has never been an opportunity for them to see the ball and the action. That is what we have been trying to change,” says Emmanuel Nyachwara, the man who introduced blind football to Uganda.
It’s a story that goes back to 2012, when he was working on improving the education level of blind people in Uganda. Two years earlier he had received a grant from a British organisation called Blind World Alliance (BWA) that gave him a mission and opportunity that changed his life.
“We have a huge opportunity today to give people with sight and the sight-challenged the opportunity not just to play football but also to see it,” says Nyachwara.
Nyachwara, who is now a full time coach for the Uganda National Blind Football Team, works with the Ugandan Blind Football Association.
Blind football is a form of football that is played by visually impaired people. But while blind athletes such as goalkeeper Emmanuel Ajeakwa-Oloya, midfielder Kallista Kukuza and striker John Kireya are on the team, blind football is growing. It is still a young sport with a team with only four members who have been together for a year and the team are working towards having a better structure and a better coach for the future.
At a recent football match Ajeakwa-Oloya, Kukuza and Kireya were on the