Two Arsenal stars found out what it is like to play football blindfolded on Tuesday as they visited a group of Vietnamese youngsters at a school in Hanoi.
Ignasi Miquel and Emi Martinez visited the Nguyen Dinh Chieu School in Hanoi - the only school in Vietnam to teach both able and disabled students.
They were blindfolded and joined in a game where the players used a ball with a bell in it in front of a silent crowd, before passing on coaching tips to the youngsters.
Speaking about the visit, Miquel said: “It was an amazing experience. How they manage to play so well only using their sense of hearing and team communication is beyond me. Their passion for football is amazing and so we’ve all really enjoyed coming here today to give them some coaching and hopefully make a positive difference to their lives.”
The school is home to more than 1,000 students, 154 of whom are visually impaired. It is one of the leading schools in Vietnam for community sport games for disabled children, particularly football, and has picked up a number of accolades in various national competitions.
Since 2011, the school has partnered with the Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) and Premier Skills project, managed by British Council Vietnam, to run a community football club which regularly attracts 50 students to each session.
Thai Van Khoa, principal at Nguyen Dinh Chieu School, said: "Our football team of visually impaired students was founded in 2003. Since then, the team has won many titles in national sports competitions for disabled students. It is our great pleasure to welcome the Arsenal players to our school. This is the first time our visually impaired students have had the opportunity to meet in person, the players that they adore. This means a lot to the kids and will inspire them."
Ian Robinson, acting country director for the British Council, said: "Teamwork and inspiration are the backbone of Arsenal’s success. These are the very same elements that helped make the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games such a great success. It is wonderful to pass this enthusiasm on to Vietnamese children. We hope the examples of the value of teamwork developed today will inspire the students to replicate this model within their school and community to develop and inspire future school children.”
Arsenal Football Club has always believed that disability should be no barrier to sport and runs regular football sessions in the UK for children that are visually impaired, deaf or suffer from learning difficulties. The sessions are part of the ‘Arsenal for Everyone’ initiative, which celebrates the Club’s commitment to equality and diversity.
Tuesday’s event helped to further emphasise the Club’s commitment to bringing more of these opportunities to a global audience and using the power of the Arsenal name to make a difference to children all over the world.