Meet the man who introduced blind football to Uganda
Fifty years on, we remember Jimmy, who inspired Blind Football: One man’s dream for a footballing revolution in Africa
It was 1958, the early years of the modern day, when blind goalkeeper David Oyelaran began playing with other blind football players at a club in the coastal city of Lira in east Africa. It wasn’t as if he couldn’t see, because he could. And he had a football in one hand too!
“I don’t remember where we played in Lira or how old I was at the time,” he recalls. “I just remember walking with my mother to the beach while my father went to collect the footballs for each game. I still have this first one, which I still love more than anything.”
Afterwards, his mother took him to a village to spend the night with relatives. The next day he was back with more footballs. “That was the end of my playing football with others. I played on the beach by myself.
“At the end of the day, I would always go to the beach for more footballs because they’re the most important. I played with no one and with those two footballs; I’d keep them in my pocket and they’d always get wet.”
For the next two years, the youngster who lived by himself on his own playing field began to learn football on his own. It was only now he was able to walk unassisted to the beach to fetch the footballs to use with his fellow players.
But the game was not just about ball and goal, it was also about discipline and technique: every training session with the ball had to be carefully planned and it had to be played with purpose and commitment to win. And the players were to be respectful to each other, to the coach and to the referee.
“I had to learn to play football