Armenia’s Sahakyan leads women’s blind football charge
Date: September 10, 2020
By Sarah S Nasir | For IBSA
Armenia’s Alla Sahakyan is a trailblazer.
As well as being a player for the national women’s team, Sahakyan has dedicated her professional life to ensuring that people with visual impairments can be full members of society.
A student, a teacher and a footballer, Sahakyan is unstoppable. With football being her passion, she is determined to prove that there are no barriers to turning a dream into reality.
“I have loved football since I was a child. At first I watched all the championships before starting to play. I realised I couldn’t do much physically owing to my condition, but after this sport made its appearance to me, here I was and I am playing.
“It feels great when you are able to achieve something you are really fond of and in this case gender does not matter.”
After discovering blind football, Sahakyan became a member of the Armenian blind football team and went on to participate in introductory workshops in Armenia’s capital Yerevan in August 2016 as part of the UEFA-supported IBSA Blind Football Development Project Europe. This was the first time Armenia took part in blind football training. This event was followed by a place on the Football for All Leadership Programme and an IBSA Blind Football youth camp in Budapest, Hungary, in 2019.
By that time, Sahakyan had become a leader in the development of blind football in Armenia, by playing in numerous tournaments and actively promoting the sport on social media.
Alongside she has been pursuing her studies at the Faculty of Special and Inclusive Education at the Armenian State Pedagogical University. At the same time, she is a specialist teacher exploring vision education and raising vital issues, having been born with a visual impairment. Sahakyan’s field helps people to adapt and become full members of society.
“This profession has helped me to improve my skills, be more independent, to double up my spatial orientation and to integrate fully into life.”
With women’s football becoming increasingly popular, Sahakyan is also determined to raise the profile of blind football.
“This is new and unusual for people in Armenia because in our country people still can’t imagine how a person can play football with closed eyes. We are trying to build blind football in Armenia. With this sport being popular in other countries, we are honoured to have a following for our team.”
Sahakyan continued: “I admire and take pride in women who play football. The way of thinking of people has changed with time and now they realize that a sport can be played regardless of gender.”
Returning to the present, 2020 has been a difficult year for sports men and women across the world.
COVID-19 may have delayed Sahakyan’s chance to play in the first IBSA Blind Football Women’s World Championships until 2021, but she too is using this time to plan the next steps and improve her game.
“I don’t like to complain about life and the difficulties as I know that there is a right time for everything”.
Amidst everything, Sahakyan has just one vision in mind:
“My vision is to develop blind football in Armenia. In order to do that, I have to organize awareness seminars and open training sessions to show the locals what this sport is. Also, women’s football is too in the development stage and I think it won’t take long to reach the world.”
The 2021 IBSA Blind Football Women’s World Championships will take place in Enugu, Nigeria, with the exact date to be confirmed.
Ahead of the competition, a training camp and mini-competition for women’s teams will be held in Hereford, Great Britain. The IBSA Blind Football Women’s Camp and Games will be held from 19-23 July.