Belgium’s Dorien Cornelis made history last August as she became the first female blind football player to ever compete at an International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA)-sanctioned event at the European Championships in Berlin, Germany.
This landmark moment in blind football enters at No. 14 in the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) Top 50 Moments of 2017.
The 25-year-old made her debut in a match against Turkey, on 19 August, which her team lost 7-0. “It was awesome and I was not nervous. After the game I was feeling so grateful with the public being so enthusiastic about it,” she said.
Belgium went on to claim a 5-0 victory over Georgia, before being subsequently defeated by Spain, Russia* and Italy to finish in eighth place.
“I would want to encourage other women to try blind football because it is such an amazing sport. They should not be scared. This is a male world, but in the upcoming years I think more women will be included. So go for it!” added Cornelis.
She took up the sport at an exhibition held at a local club in Brussels. “It was such an amazing experience. There other sports for blind people but none as cool as this one.”
She also describes Belgium’s football star Romelu Lukaku as her “inspiration. He also played for Anderlecht, team which I am a fan of.”
The full rundown of the Top 50 Moments will continue until 31 December.
*Editor's note: The International Paralympic Committee suspended the Russian Paralympic Committee on 7 August 2016 for its inability to fulfil its IPC membership responsibilities and obligations, in particular its obligation to comply with the IPC Anti-Doping Code and the World Anti-Doping Code (to which it is also a signatory). As a result of the suspension, Russian athletes cannot enter IPC sanctioned events or competitions, including the Paralympic Games.
On 6 September 2017, the IPC put in place a limited interim measure for athletes to compete as neutrals in qualification events across four World Para sports for the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games. These sports are alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country and snowboard.
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