Everton stars Richarlison and Jordan Pickford took part in a blind football disability awareness session at USM Finch Farm with Everton in the Community participants.
England shot-stopper Pickford and recent Brazil debutant Richarlison joined the group of adults with learning disabilities at the Blues state-of-the-art training facility to find out more about the basics of blind football and put their skills to the test.
The Everton duo were introduced to the group by EitC Disability Manager Steve Johnson and wasted no time donning their blindfolds and getting to grips with the special football that contains loose ball-bearings which rattle when it moves, allowing the players to locate it as they play.
Both players tried their hand at some basic drill and skill work with the football and with the support of their EitC teammates, soon mastered the technique of keeping the ball close and controlled. The session then progressed into a short-sided game of football before it ended with all the players, including Richarlison, having the opportunity to take a penalty against England’s number one!
Speaking after the session, 24-year-old Pickford said: “I’ve visited a few Everton in the Community programmes since I joined the Club but this is the first time I’ve tried blind football. It was really hard at first to get used to not being able to rely on my sight when we were doing the ball work but, luckily, I was able to take the blindfold off when we were doing the penalty shoot-out!
“Taking part in sessions such as this is really important to me as it gives us the chance to find out more about the work that the charity does and the people it helps. Everyone went away with big smiles on their faces and there were some cracking goal celebrations from the players!”
The disability programme delivered by the Club’s official charity is one of the largest and most respected in Europe and provides football and physical activity opportunities over a thousand disabled children and adults each year to help every individual under the guidance of EitC achieve their full potential.
The programme is all inclusive and there are teams available to those with any disability whether that be learning, physical, reduced stature, autism, cerebral palsy, deaf or partially sighted.
The programme also supports disabled people into education, training, employment, volunteering and social opportunities, whilst tackling negative stigma in society and challenging the huge inequalities that still exists.