Shillong, Oct 30: Meghalaya won the men’s division of the National Blind Football Tournament 1-0 against Kerala in the final in Chennai today.

The lone goal was scored by Klingson Marak.

The tournament was organised by the Indian Blind Football Federation. It ran from 28th to 30th October. This was the fifth edition of the competition, which had to be postponed last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

There were 12 men’s team that took part, divided between four groups. In Group C, Meghalaya first defeated Delhi 2-0 and Madhya Pradesh 5-0 to progress to the quarterfinals where they dealt with hosts Tamil Nadu by defeating them 3-0.

The semifinals were held today morning, with another 2-0 victory for Meghalaya, this time over West Bengal.

Marak and Gabriel Nongrum, both of whom have represented the Indian national team, led the way, scoring eight and five goals respectively. Meghalaya, were also good at the back, though, not conceding a single goal.

In the evening they were up against the other finalists, Kerala. As champions, Meghalaya received Rs 30,000.

Meanwhile, the women’s division was won by Karnataka over an IBFF reserve team 1-0 on Thursday. There were six participating teams (Meghalaya was not one of them).

In addition, Meghalaya’s Sankidaroi Sajem (pictured with the men’s team) was a referee at the tournament. She had become a blind football referee in 2019.

Blind football is a five-a-side game played on a futsal ground. It is played in nearly 60 countries around the world.

In blind football, all players except the goalkeeper are blindfolded and are assisted by a coach and a goal guide. The players are guided by the sound of the ball, which contains bells. The goalkeeper, goal guide (who stays behind the opposite goal) and the coach (who runs along the side of the pitch) are the three sighted assistants who call out and direct the players to move with the ball and to shoot.

Blind football is a Paralympic sport and the IBFF is affiliated to the Paralympic Committee of India and the International Blind Sports Federation, New Delhi. The IBFF has been developing blind football players at the grassroots through awareness camps around the country since 2013.

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