Paralympic footballer Lee Greatbatch recently visited Sightsavers-supported Akropong School for the Blind in Ghana, as part of our work for 1GOAL: Education for All.
The next Alex Ferguson
Having developed his blind football skills at St Vincent’s Residential School for the Blind in Liverpool, Lee has already played for Great Britain at the Beijing Paralympics in 2008 and has high hopes of starring at the 2010 World Blind Football Championship and the 2012 games in London.
A free-scoring striker, Lee can also turn his hand to coaching, so whilst his beloved Stoke City continue to menace defences across the Premiership, Lee took time out of his busy training schedule to teach the children of Akropong School for the Blind a trick or two, and help enhance their football skills.
Akropong School for the Blind
In a country that is looking forward to a second successive World Cup campaign, and can boast its strongest team in generations (with the likes of Chelsea superstar Michael Essien in their ranks) it’s no surprise that many young Ghanaians are football crazy! It is no different at the Akropong School for the Blind in southern Ghana.
Just four pupils enrolled when the school was established in 1945, but today 370 children fill the classrooms. 265 of the students are blind and the rest have low vision, but that didn’t prevent a huge turnout for the coaching sessions. Lee talked the enthusiastic players through the rules of the blind version of the beautiful game, taught them some key techniques and vital communication skills. “It’s been really interesting, you could see the children incorporating a lot of the things I’d taught them into the game at the end so I feel I’ve achieved something here”.
My goal is to play blind football internationally. I also want to be a chief justice in the future
The day was a big hit with 12-year-old Daniel Nkrumah: “Football is my favourite game! My father has bought me a bell-ball and I have joined a football team in my home town”. Daniel lost his sight four years ago following an accident. This affected his mobility and his independence, but he is learning Braille, thriving at school and aiming high: “My goal is to play blind football internationally. I also want to be a chief justice in the future.”
Twice voted Stoke’s Sports Personality of the Year, Lee also runs his own business, BizAbilityUK which provides disability and equality training and inspirational speakers, and is involved with a number of charities including the Guide Dogs Association and the Wonder Years Centre of Excellence. He is also working on trying to get more blind people involved in football in the UK.