Shillong, Jan 23: Bethany Society of Shillong won their opening Pool B match of the 3rd North East Blind Football Tournament by a convincing 7-1 margin over Moran Blind School of Dibrugarh on the opening day of the competition at the Shillong Public School here today.
Gabriel scored as many as five goals in his team’s victory, with a brace provided by Hilter. Neerav scored a consolation goal for the Assam-based team.
Later, the Handicapped Association of Manipur played out a goalless draw against Garo National Blind Football Club in Pool A. The last match scheduled for the day was postponed until tomorrow.
The five-a-side matches were enthralling, with players putting their best foot forward. Relying on the sound of the ball (which has bells in it) and the shouts of coaches and ‘goal guides’, the players of Bethany Society were able to find the net on seven occasions, which left those in attendance thoroughly impressed. Among the players only the goalkeeper is allowed to be sighted in a blind match, but Moran Blind School’s custodian was partially blind. Despite the scoreline, he made several good saves over the course of the 50-minute match.
The Garo Hills and Manipur teams, meanwhile, gave it their all, but could not find the back of the net, though both sides came close on occasion, and they had to share points.
All 10 teams will be involved in games tomorrow, with the action set to begin at 8AM.
Sports & Youth Affairs Deputy Director JR Marak was the chief guest for the opening match. Also present were Bertha Dkhar and Carmo Noronha of Bethany Society, which is helping the Indian Blind Football Federation organise the tournament in Shillong, and Meghalaya Football Association CEO Arki Nongrum.
(Photos contributed by the Indian Blind Football Federation. The featured photo is of Bethany Society’s Gabriel scoring a goal)