Christine Casey guiding women on men’s soccer team

football | I started training with men because there were no other women. After that, I was invited to national camps, says Casey

football | I started training with men because there were no other women. After that, I was invited to national camps, says Casey

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When Christine Casey Going to play football for the first time a year and a half ago, she had no idea about the beautiful game.

“During my first session, the coach was telling me, ‘You can’t use your hands, you have to dribble with your feet’,” said Casey, who is here for Asia-Oceania Blind Football Championshipin chat with Hindu on Friday.

The 34-year-old Australian has come a long way. She is the only woman in the ‘men’s’ team in Kochi.

“I started training with men because there were no other women. After that, I was invited to national camps. I am very lucky that my teammates are extremely supportive and help me develop my skills,” said the defender.

“I’m excited about having a women’s team in the future … it’s not there yet.” He hopes that his presence here will inspire many blind women to take up football.

Casey will make his international debut in football when Australia play Iran here on Saturday.

Although she is not new to the big stage, she played for the Australian men’s team at the 2017 T20 Blind World Cup in Kochi.

Women’s football will debut at the Blind World Championships in Birmingham next year, but Australia does not have a women’s team. What could be the reason?

“I think it’s the same as in a lot of places around the world. Sometimes, blind women are a little sneaky. Football is sometimes quite physical, you need to run around, understand that No matter where you are, there is a lot of hustle involved and I think many women are too nervous to try it,” she said. “I am working to increase the participation of women in blind sports in Australia.”

While there are not many blind women footballers at home, even getting a spot in the Australian men’s team for Kochi was not easy as the players had to pay for their travel to India. Ten players are allowed in a team (blind football is a five event) but Australia have just six and are still waiting for their goalkeeper to arrive.

“The selection was … we invited people and whoever was there is in the team. One goalkeeper said he had no money, the other goalkeeper was on the way,” said team coach Igor Negrao, a Brazilian who Came to Australia a few years ago to study English and now runs a business that helps people with disabilities.

“Fingers crossed that he would arrive on time. Otherwise the ‘goal guide’ would be the goalkeeper… but no experience.”

Despite the many challenges, Australians have their own goals.

“The main goal is to be in the Paralympics. If we do well here or at the World Games, we can qualify. This is our dream,” said captain Amir Abbi.

“We are hopeful that playing here will raise the profile of blind football in Australia. In the future, we may not need to pay to attend training camps and represent our country. This is another dream of ours,” Casey said.