LAUSD students learn blind soccer from members of the first US Blind Soccer National Team

Ashley Mackey Image
Saturday, June 8, 2024
LAUSD students learn blind soccer from US National Team
Dozens of LAUSD students learned blind soccer from members of the first US Blind Soccer National Team.

CARSON, Calif. (KABC) -- Soccer is for everyone and that's what organizers of the second annual PlayLA Adaptive Sports Blind Soccer Experience wants people to know.

About 60 blind or visually impaired LAUSD students from 10 different schools got to learn about the Paralympic sport and meet members of the first-ever USA Blind Soccer National Team.

"They're doing dribbling and they're getting a chance to understand where the ball is at their feet," said Molly Quinn, the CEO of the United States Association of Blind Athletes. "And then the most exciting part that everybody loves is that they do penalty kicks."

Students got the opportunity to run drills and learn fundamental skills using official blind soccer equipment like special goggles and a ball that makes loud noises when moved so that players on field can hear it.

"It's incredibly exciting and it just speaks to what incredible talent there is in this group," said Will Kuntz, the general manager for the Los Angeles Galaxy, one of the hosts and organizers of the event. "I've watched them kick around a little bit before and they have incredible form, a lot of them better than me. So, it's exciting."

Edi Velasco says he used to play soccer before he lost his sight about two years ago. He says relearning the sport has been challenging at times, but fun nonetheless.

"So far, it's just the same, but the dribble, you can't like kick the ball really far. You have to keep it, like, inches in front of you," said Velasco, a junior at Narbonne High School. "As you know in regular soccer, you just kick it and like chase the ball."

"One of my great regrets is that I started adaptive sports way too late. I was in my 20s," said Charles Catherine, team captain and winger of the U.S. Men's Blind Soccer National Team. "And if I had started when I was as young as some of these children here, I think I would have been much better by now. And that's the goal, right? We want to make this team better. And of course, some of them could play, if not in four years, maybe in eight years."

Organizers say there may be a student here that makes the 2028 team, but more importantly it's about knowing that you can make it.