There was evidence that blind and partially-sighted players are fully able to share the pleasures of playing football at the Arena Gdansk last night.
Ahead of the UEFA EURO 2012 quarter-final between Germany and Greece, a five-a-side game for blind and partially-sighted footballers from the CROSS association was staged as one of the showcase games under the Respect Inclusion project.
For the last two years CROSS has been engaged in football. There are currently two teams in Poland, in Wroclaw and Chorzow. Its aim is to promote and develop sports and physical culture among both blind and partially sighted children and youth.
UEFA's Respect Inclusion campaign has received distinguished support in the shape of Andrzej Szarmach, the former Polish international striker who won a silver medal at the 1976 Olympic Games and helped Poland to third place at the FIFA World Cups in 1974 and 1982.
"Many thanks to UEFA, which allowed these athletes to play in such wonderful stadiums at such a special time like the quarter-final of the European Championship," he said.
"Let's give these guys a chance to fulfil their dreams," added Szarmach. "It's very important to show supporters and athletes alike that disabled people can participate in sports activities and be a part of football just like anyone else. By showcasing and celebrating disabled athletes, they become a part of EURO 2012."
"We are at the heart of the biggest sports event in Europe," said Joanna Mucha, Poland's sports minister. "These emotions and the great atmosphere affect everyone. Everyone knows that sport integrates. When I was a teenager I worked as a volunteer with people with disabilities. Now I support athletes who impress with passion and devotion."
Two showcase games will be staged before the last two quarter-finals in Ukraine. The National Association of People with Disabilities is staging a seven-a-side game for deaf players at the Donbass Arena in Donetsk on Saturday, and the Olympic Stadium in Kyiv hosts a seven-a-side game for players with locomotive disabilities such as cerebral palsy on Sunday.
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