Shillong, Sep 23: Meghalaya were crowned champions for the third time at the 6th IBFF National Blind Football Tournament, with this being the second successive time they’ve won the title.

Meghalaya faced Kerala in the final for the second year running and won it 2-0 on Tuesday. Last year they had won 1-0.

Meghalaya’s Klingson Marak (pictured No. 10) scored a brace to secure the trophy once again for his state. He was also the joint top scorer of the tournament, along with Kerala’s Antony Samuel, with nine goals. Marak and Samuel were adjudged joint Players of the Tournament.

Another Meghalayan, Prakash Shira (No. 5), won the Best Defender award. Uttarakhand’s Sahil was the Most Promising Youngster and Anugrah the Best Goalkeeper.

As champions, Meghalaya were awarded Rs 30,000, with Marak and Shira getting Rs 5,000 each for their individual awards.

This year’s tournament was conducted by the Indian Blind Football Federation in association with the Tamil Nadu Blind Football Association. This edition saw two new teams participate – Punjab and Rajasthan – which should help promote the game across new regions.

The tournament was also a selection ground for the upcoming Asian Championships 2022, which will be held in Kochi in November.

In blind football, a five-a-side game, 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.

Meghalaya squad:
Gabriel Nongrum, Johnborlang Pyngrope, Resinius Pathaw, Jebilbang M Sangma, Klingson D Marak, Prakash D Shira, Visiondo M Sangma (goalkeeper), Donbor Nongrum (coach), Shanbormi Suchiang (goal guide)

(Photo contributed)

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