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Soccer players kick out visual impairment stereotypes

XINHUA | Updated: 2020-12-07 08:40

Yu Yutan (left), a blind footballer from Fujian province, kicks the ball in a game with Guangdong province's team during the National Games of Disabled Persons in August 2019. [Photo/Xinhua]

NANJING-On a damp and cold day in eastern China, Chen Shanyong wears a blindfold and surges forward on a soccer pitch, making a powerful volley after perfectly dribbling the ball into the box.

For the 32-year-old Chen, taking a shot in the dark is like a walk in the park, as the star player of Jiangsu province's blind soccer team has been in "touch" with the sport for over 15 years.

Blind soccer is a five-a-side game with four outfield players who are visually impaired and a goalkeeper. It is played on a downsized rectangular field surrounded by rebound panels, where the players wear eyeshades to ensure the competition is on equal terms.

China has the largest number of blind people in the world, with the number exceeding 17 million, and most of them are trained and employed in massage parlors.

"Soccer has brought us another world, where we can chase our dreams," says Chen, who is completely blind and has been since birth.

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