Coaches and athletes from across the U.S. will converge on Rock Hill, S.C. to participate in a blind soccer talent identification camp, July 8-10. The event is organized by the United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) in conjunction with the Charlotte Independence Soccer Club. It is the second in a series of Building Blind Soccer events funded through US Soccer’s Innovate to Grow grant. The camp will consist of three full days of training with two on-field sessions each day at Manchester Meadows (337 E. Mt. Gallant Road, Rock Hill, S.C.). All camp activities are open to the media. Camp participants will also attend Friday night’s game between the Charlotte Independence and the Richmond Kickers, and blind soccer athlete and veteran Casimir Werda (Novi, Mich.) will be honored at halftime during Military Appreciation Night.
Blind soccer is an adaptation of soccer for athletes with visual impairments. The sport is played in 60 countries and has become the fastest-growing Paralympic sport in the world. In January, the USABA received the highest level of certification from the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee to be the national governing body (NGB) for the Paralympic sport of blind soccer. Globally known as blind football, the sport has been part of the Paralympic Games program since 2004. The U.S. will be making its Paralympic debut as the host country of the Los Angeles 2028 Games and this week’s camp in Rock Hill is an important step in identifying talented athletes for the first-ever USA Blind Soccer National Team to be named in October. The first international competition for the inaugural USA Blind Soccer Team will be this December in Guatemala at the IBSA Central American Championships.
“As the newly-certified national governing body for blind soccer in the U.S., we are fast-tracking our talent identification with camps around the country,” said USABA Program Director Kevin Brousard. “This week’s camp in Rock Hill provides us with a good mix of experienced athletes from previous camps alongside some newcomers to the sport. We are looking forward to the three days of instruction and scrimmages to help develop these athletes.”
Among the 12 athletes participating will be three-time Paralympic track & field athlete David Brown (Chula Vista, Calif.). Brown was the 100-meter gold medalist at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games and was the first totally blind athlete to run under 11 seconds when he clocked 10.92 in 2014. Fil Wilkinson, director of community engagement for the Charlotte Independence and director of adult soccer for Rock Hill, will be one of three coaches directing the camp.
For more information on how the game of blind soccer is played, visit https://www.usaba.org/sports/blind-soccer/paralympic-sport/ or watch video HERE.
Noah Beckman (Dublin, Ohio)
David Brown (Chula Vista, Calif.)
Kevin Brown (Falls Church, Va.)
Ricardo Castaneda (Fort Worth, Texas)
Meghan Grenda (Redlands, Calif.)
Cody Kirchner (New Brunswick, N.J.)
Jadyn Heilman (Oakland, Calif.)
Alvaro Mora (Phoenix, Ariz.)
Jasmine Murrell (Plainfield, N.J.)
Jefferson Palacios (Baltimore, Md.)
Ahmed Shareef (Staten Island, N.Y.)
Casimir Werda (Novi, Mich.)
Sheena Hager (Chicago, Ill.)
Katie Smith (Columbus, Ohio)
Philip Wilkinson (Charlotte, N.C.)
The mission of USABA is to empower Americans who are blind or visually impaired to experience life-changing opportunities in sports, recreation, and physical activities, thereby educating and inspiring the nation. A member organization of both the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) and US Soccer, USABA is certified by the USOPC as the national governing body for the Paralympic team sports of goalball and blind soccer. Since its founding in 1976, USABA has reached more than 100,000 individuals through its multi-sport programming in eight sports. The organization has emerged as more than just a world-class trainer of blind athletes, it has become a champion of the abilities of Americans who are legally blind. In 2022, USABA expanded its offerings of endurance sports events with the launch of its Team Tethered Together program for visually impaired runners and their guides. Learn more at www.usaba.org/.