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How the visually impaired watch AFCON 2023

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Visually impaired football fans enjoying the game

Did you know that the visually impaired actually watch and enjoy football? Well, that depends on your definition of the word “WATCH”.

In a world where sight is often considered crucial for enjoying sporting activities such as football, some passionate visually impaired individuals are breaking barriers and experiencing the excitement of the ongoing African Cup of Nations tournament (AFCON) in their own extraordinary way.

This article focuses on two visually impaired football enthusiasts are enjoying the ongoing AFCON.

It’s some minutes to the next match in the African cup of nations football tournament currently underway in Cote D’Ivoire. Visually impaired 30-year-old, Richard has come to savour the match with his friend, Eric, who has the same challenge. They both cannot see. They enjoy the match on a big screen, with a blasting volume, in order to follow the commentary.

And it is a lot of emotion, when there’s a goal.

Eric (L) and Richard (R)

Eric Kissi, now in his 40s, lost his sight when he was seven, but that has not stopped him from following his passion- football.

Eric Kissi

“I have little vision, so I depend on the commentary. I do my own imagination, mental picture and visualize how everything is happening in my mind.”

Sometimes, they fall on another person to feed them with the details.

“Sometimes I watch with my younger brother, who narrates to me, what is happening, while I follow the commentary”.

This is what he had to say about his visualisation of the Black Stars captain.

“I don’t know Dede by face, but the description I have of him is that he doesn’t have a lot of hair on his head, and he’s a good dribbler, because any time he has the ball, you hear the commentators saying Dede with the ball, Dede with the ball. I also heard he’s not too tall, Jordan is taller than him.”

His friend Richard Aryee, who lost his sight in 2019 through wrong medication, says he misses the stadium euphoria.

Eric (L) and Richard (R)

“It was very difficult for me to accept that I’m going blind, because I haven’t even seen a blind man before in my life. I miss the stadium jubilation with the vuvuzela and everything,“ he said.

Richard Aryee

His wish is to see his favourite player, Mohammed Kudus one day.

“Kudus is my favourite player, I haven’t seen him before, but I always get excited, when I hear him playing,” he revealed.

They are both worried about the lack of deliberate efforts to promote inclusion for persons living with disability.

“Our stadia are not friendly to the wheelchair users. We don’t have commentary rooms for the visually impaired, like in other countries. There’s still that ancient thinking in Ghana that if you are blind, you just have to be in the room and not go out, so the facilities don’t favour us, but that shouldn’t be so. Football is not only for the sighted”, Kissi, lamented.

In the world of football, where the focus is often on what is seen on the field of play, these visually impaired fans are proving that the beautiful game can be appreciated through other senses.

And when Nigeria and hosts, Cote D’Ivoire clash for the finals of the AFCON on Sunday, the many visually impaired fans around the continent will definitely find a way to enjoy the game to the last blast of the whistle.

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