Soccability Canada makes history.

For the first time ever, a team of Canadian soccer players competed at the international level in blind soccer and history was made. The squad of six players and two coaching staff travelled south to Chula Vista, California and the US Olympic and Paralympic Training Centre for a three-day camp that included training and back-to-back games against the first ever US Men’s blind soccer team. It’s worth noting that Canada has a healthy pool of male and female players that can represent us at the international level, however the restraints of travel documentation and vaccination meant that a smaller squad traveled to the US.

The hospitality of our American hosts meant the competition was financially feasible, and only required the players to find the cost of their flight. Uniforms were sponsored by the Mather & Bell IDA pharmacy in Peterborough and team insurance was covered through Soccabillity Canada as part of the Justin Masotti fundraising event initiated by Luke McConnell in 2022. Both teams were housed at the Olympic training centre just outside of San Diego that offers a year-round high performance environment for sports including track and field, soccer, archery, rugby, field hockey and BMX. Our Canadian athletes got the opportunity to mingle with other teams at training camp including the University of Washington rowing team, Chinese Olympic field athletes and a competitive track club from Coquitlam BC.

Climatisation for any athlete is important when traveling to a new country, for blind and visually impaired athletes orientation on and around the field of play is of particular importance. The first training day at the local blind soccer facility was an opportunity to familiarize ourselves with the playing surface, rebound boards and the added impact on acoustics of the high boards behind each of the nets.

Match Day One saw Canada put out its most experienced lineup with Richard Amelard, our sighted goalkeeper, Ramya Amuthan and Gavin O’Sullivan in defence with Hillary Scanlon and Raki Karim our two forwards. Our youngest team member Keaton was brought on with four minutes to play in the game. This was a precautionary measure so we could ensure the game was well controlled for the safety of Keaton. When he did enter the field of play he did a great job with four strong tackles including two notable tackles that stopped the US getting a clear shot on goal. The live-streamed game ended one-nil to the hosts with them having much of the possession. With a barrage of attempts on the Canadian net it provided plenty to reflect on as we assessed the best way to manage Game 2.

Donations to Blind Soccer Canada

With Gavin O’Sullivan pulling up injured during morning training on Match Day 2 it was up to Keaton to fill his spot and play alongside the ever-busy Ramya Amuthan. While not live streamed this was arguably Canadas better performance despite losing three to nil. We failed on three penalty kicks with two hit straight at the ‘keeper and one that went wide. We also managed five corners that showed we were able to now get into the attacking third of the field and create opportunities to be there. Our forwards Raki and Hillary worked hard all game to control the ball up against the boards but the physical presence of our opponents kept us fighting for scraps most of the game.

There’s no doubt if we had been able to take a full complement of players with us the score lines would have been different, having more than one substitute on the bench would have given everyone a chance to rest and reset but most of our decisions had to be made on the fly with players giving their all on the field. However, the focus of this trip was on putting a stake in the ground and then moving the game forward on our path toward a complete player and competition pathway.

All of our players did incredibly well, they stood up strong to a physical game. They bounced back up from tough challenges and never let down their commitment and their pride in representing their country for the first time ever. This group of players have set the standard which new players coming into the program will have to meet and/or exceed and we’re really excited for the future development of a male and female specific team that can represent Canada.

If you know of blind or visually impaired players in your community that could give this beautiful sport a try, then please contact Matt at inquiries@soccability.ca for more details.

Squad:

  1. Richard Amelard (Toronto)         
  2. Ramya Amuthan (Toronto)
  3. Keaton H. (Newmarket)
  4. Gavin O’Sullivan (Toronto)
  5. Hillary Scanlon (Peterborough)
  6. Raki Karim (Ottawa)

Head Coach: Matt Greenwood (Whitby)

Goal Guide: Rozalia Cervenan (Ottawa)

Local blind soccer programs are now available at:

  • Pickering Football Club
  • London Whitecaps
  • North Mississauga SC
  • Ottawa Blind Soccer
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