Location and general information
The project began with keen photographer Catherine Cabrol taking pictures of blind and partially sighted children at the Institut des Jeunes Aveugles (IJA), a school for blind children in Bamako. Catherine, who is also founder of the Libre Vue (Free View) association, wanted to connect with these girls and boys in a meaningful way and help them by selling her photos to fund a project to introduce them to blind football.
Thanks to her photography and the support of benefactors, Libre Vue was able to build a pitch designed especially for blind football, which opened in October 2012.
Solidarité Aveugle (Blind Solidarity) is a sustainable project designed to promote and develop blind football activities at the IJA. Focusing on the considerable needs of the school, the project aims to improve the lives of blind and partially sighted children by using football as a force for integration and development. By visiting mainstream schools, the project also aims to raise awareness among other children and change attitudes towards disability and difference. Sport plays an educational role, promotes important values, combats exclusion, improves well-being and increases self-esteem. At the IJA, the children receive special education, but in difficult conditions and with poor infrastructure. Sports facilities are limited and the football pitch, which floods during the monsoon season, requires regular maintenance.
In 2017, Libre Vue received initial support from the foundation following the annual call for projects. This funding was used to achieve the following objectives:
- management of the sports centre and its activities;
- first-rate training of coaches and young players in blind football, in accordance with international standards;
- organisation of Mali’s first blind football cup; the first official tournament in Bamako was finally held as described in the interim report
- raising awareness of visual impairment among the young people of Bamako;
- building of new facilities, including separate showers and changing rooms for girls and boys. This ‘house for blind football’ project was finally launched at the end of 2018 and will finish in April 2019. The part of the grant earmarked for this project was therefore used at the end of last year.
- participation of young people from Libre Vue in the Africa Cup of Nations thanks to additional funding alongside the association’s crowdfunding campaign
- 120 young people, including 35 girls, aged between 7 and 25 benefited from the project.
- Four weekly training sessions were organised.
- Eleven coaches were trained by a coach and a player from the French blind football team.
- The ten best youngsters participated in the CAN2017 in Cape Verde, winning a silver medal that enabled them to qualify for the Blind Football World Championships in Spain in 2018
At the IBSA Blind Football World Championships held in Madrid in June 2018, the Mali team finished tenth out of 16 participating nations, a remarkable performance for a first appearance.
[Photo of the Mali team at the World Championships]
On 21 April 2018, UEFA and the United Nations Office in Geneva joined forces to organise the Match for Solidarity. All the gate receipts, along with funds generated by an auction, were donated to humanitarian and development projects selected by the UEFA Foundation for Children.
Some of this income was used to provide a second payment to the Blind Football in Bamako project. Further activities are being planned for 2019 and 2020.
- Make blind football more accessible: annual pitch maintenance and gradual renovation of existing facilities; replacement of sports equipment (bell balls, including Youthorama mini-balls (also recently provided by your organisation), blindfolds, shirts, shin guards, bags, boots); and purchase of specific equipment for girls (sports bras).
- Promote elite performance: support from an expert coach for competition preparation, assistance from therapists; purchase of specific equipment (treadmill, exercise bike and street workout equipment); training for referees and guides; and coach education.
- Adapt the ‘house for blind football’ partially funded by the foundation (opening in spring 2019): furniture for the changing rooms and teaching staff offices; and energy-producing technologies (solar panels to heat water for the showers and generate electricity for the building).
- Encourage girls: launch of an art project combining photography and a poetry competition to help partially sighted girls excel; organisation of an event at the French Institute in Bamako; and publication of an explanatory booklet.
- Promote economic and social integration: help with clothing and mobility (white sticks, transport subsidies); awareness-raising in schools; academic support (braille paper, portable braille computers for older children); and creation of a professional integration centre involving companies in Bamako.
- 120 blind and partially sighted children participate in blind football activities, with access to a new building with changing rooms and showers
- 20 youngsters are given extra support to play at elite level
- 12 youngsters receive support with professional integration from a dedicated project manager
- 120 young people receive general support
- 16 girls involved in an art project