The Turkish Football Association (TFF) has concluded a three-part course focused on training tutors for disability football coaching, a precursor to increased training programmes for disabled people that are planned throughout Turkey.
The last of the three sessions in the course was held in March and concentrated on blind football. The two-day event, staged in Istanbul, was led by area specialist Ulrich Pfisterer, head coach of the German blind football national team and a member of the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA). The session was split into two parts – theoretical and practical – with the practical aimed at giving participating coaches experience of playing football unsighted, as they wore blindfolds and played with "blind" footballs.
"When I first heard about playing football without sight, I thought it would be impossible," said TFF coach Ismet Kamak. "I put on the blindfold and after a while realised that my inner feelings and senses told me what to do. I am a professional football coach and after attending the three sessions of the tutor training programme I noticed that nothing is impossible and people with disabilities achieve great things."
The first two sessions, in January and February 2011, covered both football for people with intellectual disabilities and physically disabled football, including for amputees and those affected by cerebral palsy and strokes. Course delegates comprised, among others, TFF professional coaches, regional coordinators of the TFF grassroots programme, and academics experienced in disability sports.
Pfisterer said of the whole initiative: "I think the work of the TFF is exemplary, showing what the rest of the world should be doing with football for the blind. Also, I have never felt better hospitality in any other country. The fact there were many former professional footballers like myself helped the general feeling of being among friends.
"The type of questions asked by those attending also indicated an increased interest as the course progressed. To sum up the seminar, I think the 'train the trainer' philosophy is the way to go. They have been shown the three branches of disability football. The coaches will find for themselves which will suit them most."
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