Prominent footballers, coaches, international experts and representatives from sport organisations and clubs came together for the launch of ‘A Ball for All’ – a project to promote access to the practice of football for blind and visually impaired people.
The launch event, which was organised by Save the Dream, took place at Aspire Zone on the occasion of National Sport Day.
Run in collaboration with the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC), Sasol, under its Definitely Able initiative, Qatar Social & Cultural Centre for the Blind (QSCCB) and Aspire Zone Foundation (AZF), the event featured French ambassador to Qatar Eric Chevallier, Qatar Sports Club and former Inter Milan player Luis Jimenez and legendary international coach Bora Milutinovic.
Involving more than 150 children from Alnoor Institute for Blind, Al-Yarmouk Preparatory School, Khalifa Secondary School, Alkoan International School, Olive Indian School and Almaha School, the event showcased the power blind football has to empower young people and encourage inclusivity and integration within society.
A range of celebrities and influencers, such as Ahmed Khaleel, beIN TV presenter and former national football team player; Mohamed Daham and Saud Fateh Aljamaan, former national football team players; Qatar’s first international female golfer Yasmian al-Sharshani; and social media influencers Ahmed Pato, Saad al-Qahtani, joined the event and participated in penalty shootouts alongside children and members of the public.
Organised as part of Save the Dream’s overall mission to use sport as tool for social inclusion and youth empowerment, the event marked the start of a capacity-building project, which will provide advanced training for coaches in Qatar to encourage young people to practice blind football. A toolkit will be distributed to all blind and visually impaired children in the country and their respective families and innovative balls (with a bell inside) – smaller and lighter than those currently used in blind football – will be introduced to facilitate the practice of this sport.
The project was designed, on behalf of Save the Dream, by the International Blind Sports Federation Blind Football Referees co-ordinator Elias Mastoras.
Sasol, the international integrated chemicals and energy company, sponsored ‘A Ball for All’ through its leading initiative, ‘Definitely Able’, to support the blind community in Qatar. Mohamed Hanzab, founder of Save the Dream and International Centre for Sport Security chairman; Yousuf Mohamed al-Jaida, QFC Authority CEO; Phinda Vilakazi, president of GTL Ventures at Sasol; Nasser Abdullah al-Hajri, director of PR and Communications at AZF; Save the Dream executive director Massimiliano Montanari; and French ambassador Chevallier hailed the initiative along with Daham; Jimenez and Rabii al-Afwi, a former Moroccan national team player and sports analyst for Al Kass TV.
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