Chelsea superfan called Chelsea tells how playing blindfolded football ‘unlocked the game’ for son Stamford
The mother of an 11-year-old visually impaired Chelsea superfan who goes by the club’s name and named her son after his stadium says playing in a blind match had ‘unlocked the game’ for his boy.
Football fanatic Chelsea Bottomley, 32, a trustee from Paddington, London, said she hoped more blind football would be made available to her son Stamford after taking part in his match organized by the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association in August of this year.
Named after the London club’s Stamford Bridge stadium, Stamford suffers from cerebral palsy which the NHS says affects movement and coordination – and impaired vision is common in children with the lifelong condition.
An avid footballer, Stamford struggled to play the sport at school so his mum said it was special to see her son take part in an adapted version of the game.
Chelsea, named after his mother’s favorite team, said: “Stamford was born with cerebral palsy and visual impairment and although he was a huge football fan he struggled to play football. school.
“With a bell inside the ball to let players know where it is and keywords being shouted throughout the game, blind football unlocked the game for Stamford and gave them access to participate. “
Chelsea says she became aware of Stamford’s vision problems when he was a baby.
She said: ‘When he was a newborn the doctors told me he had something called nystagmus which meant his eyes moved from side to side and he also had strabismus .
“But as he got a bit older and was a toddler, I noticed that if he was on his play mat and I walked quietly into the room, he wouldn’t even see me until I was almost right in front of him.”
She added: “I also noticed other things, like how he preferred black-and-white picture books to colored books.”
At 10 months, Stamford was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
“It’s not so much his eyes that are the problem, but the way his brain communicates with his eyes,” Chelsea said.
She added: “He struggles with things like depth perception and facial recognition.
“He also had a brain bleed when he was born, which set him back for a few years.
“He was behind on his milestones and was about three and a half before Stamford started saying words, but thankfully, through a lot of hard work, physiotherapy and speech and language training, he has since caught up.”
Chelsea said Stamford’s 50 per cent field of vision did not hold him back.
“He’s just an awesome kid – he’s very confident and has a really good sense of humor,” she said.
“He’s so positive and I never wanted his confidence to be shaken.”
She added: “He’s such a character and the teachers at school all love him. And he loves football a lot.
It was Stamford’s love of the game that led to Chelsea being approached by Guide Dogs who were running a blind football masterclass.
She said: “We love football in our family, it’s like a second religion. We were born Catholic but we were also born Chelsea.
She added: “My mum named me Chelsea after the club and when my boy was born my mum was so supportive that I named him Stamford for her.
“And they have a wonderful relationship, Stamford is very close with his girl.
“Stamford always had a season ticket and always went to games, but he struggled to play football at school.”
She added: “Kids are very competitive and he would always be picked last for teams and that was tough for him.
“He was desperate to participate, but he couldn’t always see the ball or see where he was aiming for it.
“The masterclass was an incredible experience for him.”
Adapting football for blind children, Stamford participated in games where the players were blindfolded and the ball had a bell inside so they could hear where it was.
“The blindfold helped eliminate any distraction from the light and every time a player received the ball they would shout out a keyword and the rest of the team would repeat it so they knew where everything was. the world was,” Chelsea said.
“It was very special to see Stamford being able to participate fully in a sport he loves.”
Now Chelsea are hoping Stamford can participate in more blindfold football.
“It’s difficult because there are currently only three blind teams in the National Blind Football League, so hopefully by raising awareness more things will become available,” she said. .
“It would be great to see schools organize football matches for the blind, as it will be a great experience for sighted children, as well as blind children.”
The Stamford Blind Football Masterclass has been organized by the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association – to find out how the association helps visually impaired children go to: www.guidedogs.org.uk/getting-support/help-for -children-and-families/