Eyes covered and ears sharp, the Malaysian national blind football team is set to wow the public with a free demonstration at the #StandTogether Carnival
in Setia City Convention Centre this Sunday.
The demonstration will be open to the public, with team members conducting workshops on how to dribble, pass and shoot while completely blindfolded.
“Many people don’t know what blind football is because the population of blind people is small, Blind football also doesn’t have a national league like the Malaysian Premier League,” said Sunny Shalesh.
The #StandTogether Carnival is a celebration to cap off Malaysia’s first ever National Kindness Week, where there will be fun activities, food, self-defense workshops, celebrity appearances, and live performances.
The National Kindness Week was mooted by R.AGE
and property developer SP Setia as part of their #StandTogether
campaign, which aims to end bullying in schools by creating a culture of kindness.
The national blind football team, unfortunately, is no stranger to the dangers of bullying.
“People treated us differently as children because we are different. Even as adults, people tease us by telling us that there is something in front of us when there really isn’t,” said team captain Mohamad Amirul Arif.
Coach Sunny and his team aim to educate the public about blind sports and hopefully normalise their presence in society.
“The #StandTogether campaign is important to me because it’s a message of treating everyone as equals, which is what I do when I fight for the social inclusion and rights of the disabled,” said Sunny.
What is blind football?
Blind football is played by five players per side, which includes four blind athletes and one sighted goalkeeper. Sighted coaches are stationed behind the goal and on the side of the pitch to give the players instructions and tell them where to shoot.
Spectators are encouraged to remain silent as the players listen for the ball, which is embedded with ball bearings to make a ringing sound.
At the #StandTogether Carnival, members of the public get the chance to enter the field and be taught how to dribble and shoot penalties while blindfolded, and they could even play a four-on-four friendly match alongside the national players.
Sunny dubs the experience “Football in the dark”.
“People out there need to know what blind football is, because then they’ll really see what blind people can do,” said Amirul.
Amirul feels that through the demonstration, the public will realise that people with disabilities can not only play football, but also function as regular members of society.
“When we go to a public playing space, we are always made to wait because we are seen as unimportant, being disabled,” said Sunny.
When Sunny first brought the team together, they were all part-time amateurs, many working as reflexologists and telephone operators during the week. They would only train during weekends, thanks to support from CIMB Foundation.
The #StandTogether Carnival
Over 700 schools had registered for the National Kindness Week on April 2-6, and they will gather at the #StandTogether Carnival to celebrate that success, and call for a kinder society throughout the year.
For more information, go to bit.ly/stcarnivaleng
. Here’s a summary of the activities at the #StandTogether Carnival:
10:30am - Carnival begins
11:00am - Blind football demo begins. Ends at 4pm.
12:00pm - Free self-defense and MMA demo with Ann Osman, Peter Davis, Agilan Thani and more
11:00am - Pet adoption with SPCA and LASS
12:30pm - Expert talks for parents and teachers
1:30pm - Science show by Petrosains
1:45pm - Exclusive meet-and-greet with Arwind Kumar, Harith Iskander, Lisa Surihani, Ann Osman, and more.
2:45pm - Arrival of VIPs for #StandTogether Concert
3:00pm - Concert performances by Ismail Izzani, Talitha Tan, Rabbit Mac and Nik Qistina.
3:30pm - Public Q&A session with celebrity kindness ambassadors
6:00pm - Exclusive meet-and-greet with Ismail Izzani, the Oh My English! cast, Rabbit Mac, and more.