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Blind Football: France wants to make history at home in Paris 2024

Date: March 6, 2024

Category: Blind football

The French men’s Blind Football national team is not only the host of the Paralympic Games in Paris 2024. The squad commanded by Toussaint Akpweh will enter the field of play as the current European champions, having conquered the title in Italy in 2022.

“For almost five years, we have been working with rigour and determination to regain our place in the world elite of football for the blind. The first results began to emerge in 2019 by finishing runner-up at the Europe Championship. Then, in 2022, we progressed by becoming European champions. The rest, we will write it in Paris!” started Toussaint. “In this logic of progression described above, our competition in Paris, at home, clearly aims to be on the podium. For that to happen, we are working very hard.”
So what is France’s objective at the Games?
– Team France has a hack to regain a place on the world podium during the Paris Games. This objective, which is certainly difficult in view of the contenders and the teams in good shape at the moment, leads us to improve, step by step, in certain areas of our performance.
Do you feel an extra responsibility playing at home?
– Of course! Playing at home is not always easy, but in our case, performing in Paris is of two major importance: the sports component already mentioned above and the societal component, which aims to truly lead to a change in the way the general public views the concept of disability. For us, it is important to establish lasting recognition and valorization of the skills and know-how of people with visual disabilities. So we have to perform sportily and act for a completely new look.
Field of play with a view to the Eiffel Tower!
How did the team react when they knew that the blind football tournament would be played in front of the Eiffel Tower, the most iconic structure in the country and one of the most important in the world?
– The feelings are both pride and responsibility. It is important here to highlight the relevance of France in choosing this emblematic place to convey to the world new messages for people with disabilities. So for the athletes and the staff, it is a great pleasure to be able to play in this globally recognised place, which also reinforces the need to succeed in the two objectives outlined above. For the moment, we are working to live up to our ambitions.
Do you think it will give additional motivation to everyone (not just the French team)?
– For the entire team involved in the competition, millions of theirs when we citizens know the Eiffel Tower. It is therefore obvious that each country will have the heart to do even more to communicate fully with its various supporters and stay at home. Beyond the venue, there will be media coverage of the competition, which will give a great boost to global visibility for this adventure. Finally, visually impaired people from all over the world will feel honoured by this performance by their ambassadors during the Paris Games.
#Accessibility – Toussaint Akpweh is talking with his players during one time out at the 2022 IBSA Blind Football European Championships that took place in Italy.
Can you tell us how the preparation for your team has been going?
– Like all other competing teams, the French team prepares intensively through internships, preparation matches, and preparation tournaments. This pace will intensify as we get closer to the Games period. Like all the other contenders, we will come into this competition with much greater potential than we had at the last world championships.
Will France participate in an international tournament before Paris 2024?
– Yes, we will be entered like the majority of the teams qualified for. the games at the World Grand Prix France, which will take place in Strasbourg from May 24 to June 2. This is the last adjustment event for these podium contenders.
What were the lessons to be learned from 7th place at the World Games/World Championships in Birmingham?
– For the French team, our last World Championships in Birmingham allowed us to make a real assessment of our current performances, but above all, they underlined the momentum of progress that drives us today, with the obvious fact that a goal of a podium in Paris is really within our reach. Moreover, it seems to me that all the other teams are now aware of this.
Any final message to the French people to support the team?
– Come and support the French team because it will need this sixth man to transform. All over the world, in important competitions, such as the games, the organising country transcends through the support of its public. Allow us to transcend ourselves, become supporters, and show solidarity with the French team.

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