Lights Will Guide You Home: Bengal's Blind Football Team
The team is preparing for tours of Australia and England
Right now the blind football team of Bengal ranks 23rd worldwide and 4th among Bengal's football teams. This is due to the organising efforts of one person, Goutam Dey, founder of the blind football team and association in Bengal.
It was in 2012 that he came to know of some blind persons who wanted to play football but couldn't as they lacked proper training and infrastructure. There were no proper club or association, so Dey would recruit players from various NGOs.
Later, in 2013 Dey, Abhijit Mondal and Goutam Bind went to Thailand for the first time, representing India in International Blind Football matches. After returning from the tour of Thailand Dey was able to form his own organisation and team.
After "a huge fight", he says, in March 2017 he was able to register India’s first ever blind football association, the Bengal Football Association for the Blind of Bengal, under the Indian Blind Football Federation. Dey has also founded the North Calcutta Cricket Association for the Blind of Bengal.
The blind football team received various awards and prizes from different companies but none from the West Bengal government. The CEO of Bandhan Bank is helping the team in their development and has promised them more help in future.
“Pronab Dey, Ajit Verma and Subhojit Moulick inspired me and through their motivation and encouragement I was able to form the team and association properly," says Dey. “Blind football is the toughest, most difficult game. No help or support was given to us by the state government."
In blind football matches the teams are divided into 8 players (4+4 on either side). The size of the ground is also different, at about 20 metres wide and 40 metres long.
The team has played three national and two zonal games. Unlike in other sports, there is no corruption in blind football, says Dey.
At present the team is busy preparing for their tour of Australia and England later this month.