With less than two months to go until the 2018 International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Blind Football World Championships, the Colombian team members are confident they have what it takes to excel in Madrid from 7-17 June.
This conviction derives from the team’s success in November 2017 when they qualified for the Worlds at the Copa America in Santiago, Chile, in convincing fashion.
Colombia did not only conclude the qualification tournament in a much-celebrated third place, they also sent a remarkable signal to the blind football community by drawing against the world’s No. 1 and No. 2, Brazil and Argentina, respectively.
After this notable accomplishment in Chile, the Colombians set the bar high for Madrid 2018.
“We have great expectations for the World Championships in Spain. We have been working rigorously lately and we have clear goals in our mind. We want to finish among the top four in the world so that we can also improve our ranking for Tokyo 2020,” said the coach Fernando Carrillo.
While the coach has high ambitions, player Juan David Pérez is also dreaming about having a successful competition. “I am preparing myself 100% and I am just focusing on my training at the moment. My teammates and I are working very hard to bring the title home to Colombia.”
Emerging power Colombia will have to face the likes of reigning world champions Brazil, Argentina, hosts Spain, China and Rio 2016 silver medallists Iran. But Carrillo states he is not afraid.
“Of course Brazil and Argentina will be our main rivals again, but I have to say that we have improved greatly in the past few years and we demonstrated repeatedly that we have reached a high level.
“The fact that we drew with both Brazil and Argentina last year is really motivating for us. We believe that we can make of the upcoming Worlds another story of success.”
Even though Carrillo is satisfied with the technical development the team has undergone, he knows that there is plenty of room for improvement left. “We have grown step by step, but we need to become better at strengthening our team and how we all work together,” he said.
Pérez added: “Another issue is that for us to be able to win these big tournaments, we need professional players who can dedicate themselves to the sport 100 per cent. Unfortunately, we do not receive any salary and hence, we sometimes have to leave the football field to go to work.”
Despite the obstacles, the team is preparing meticulously not just for Madrid 2018 as they also have the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics in the back of their mind. “We do not just want to participate, we want to win our first Paralympic medal which can be achieved through a collective team effort,” concluded Carrillo.