Natasha Mead admits playing for England women’s blind team is ‘still sinking in’

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Natasha Mead (back row, 2nd  from left) with her chap  members of the caller   England women’s unsighted  squad  astatine  St George’s Park (FA Handout/PA).

Being portion of the caller England women’s unsighted squad is thing which is “still sinking in” for Natasha Mead, who hopes it volition pb to different accidental of fulfilling the “dream” of competing astatine a Paralympics.

The Football Association has created the squad arsenic portion of its three-year ‘Football Your Way’ plan, announced past October, to assistance develop, amended and rise consciousness of disablement shot successful England.

Mead archetypal became progressive past August erstwhile unfastened ‘activity days’ were held to statesman the process of putting a squad together.

Following the trials stage, determination person been grooming camps astatine St George’s Park since the crook of the twelvemonth – the archetypal authoritative 1 was past play – and determination were games played against Sweden successful April.

Next week the squad question to Pescara, Italy for a bid of planetary matches, and adjacent summertime they are acceptable to vie successful an inaugural World Championships being held successful Birmingham.

Mead, who has competed internationally successful different sports and had been playing shot “on and disconnected for a mates of years” earlier the August enactment day, told the PA quality agency: “I’ve been progressing truly good and I wasn’t truly expecting to get this far.

“I deliberation I’m inactive successful daze to beryllium honest. I deliberation it’s inactive sinking successful that I’m portion of the England squad.

“I’ve had truly bully experiences on the mode truthful acold and going to Italy volition beryllium different large experience. I deliberation it’s a large honour, and I’m precise arrogant to beryllium selected arsenic portion of the England team.”

The 27-year-old from Plymouth has antecedently represented her state playing cricket and goalball.

She was besides a sprinter who ran for Great Britain astatine inferior level and past had an unsuccessful proceedings for the London 2012 Paralympics – thing she says near her “quite devastated”.

Women’s unsighted shot is presently not a Paralympic athletics – men’s has been since 2004 – but the anticipation wrong the FA is that it volition beryllium portion of the Los Angeles 2028 Games, with a Great Britain squad involved.

FA B1 womens improvement campy squad successful betterment mode aft moving hard connected camp. Looking stronger, faster each clip we spot them. Work hard play hard.💪🏻 pic.twitter.com/HUcrV87sqj— England Blind Squad (@EnglandBlind) February 24, 2022

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And Mead – besides present playing for Brighton, and the lone pistillate successful that squad – said: “I’d beryllium truly honoured to beryllium portion of a squad going retired to the Paralympics successful 2028.

“We’ll beryllium looking astatine different competitions and opportunities earlier the Paralympics – that’s a agelong mode off, and I consciousness we tin beryllium adjacent stronger than we are now. (But) I deliberation going to the Paralympics would beryllium a imagination – I deliberation that’s each athlete’s dream.”

FA pistillate para improvement manager Lauren Asquith says “it is truly breathtaking times”.

Asquith added: “It is precise overmuch inactive successful its infancy, we are inactive precise overmuch developing, but the information we’re going adjacent week (to Italy) is down to the hard enactment and the determination of the girls.

Lauren Asquith moving   with the squad astatine  St George’s Park (FA Handout/PA)

Lauren Asquith moving with the squad astatine St George’s Park (FA Handout/PA)

“If you’d person asked maine past August if we’d beryllium adjacent playing a crippled astatine this stage, we astir apt wouldn’t person thought we would beryllium here. But the girls person progressed astatine specified a rate.

“Our purpose truly is to get the squad acceptable for the 2023 event, the equivalent of a World Cup, connected location soil. We’ve lone had 2 fixtures truthful far, truthful it’s a large measurement adjacent week but we’re truly excited we tin bash that.

“Tash is simply a relation exemplary but besides a spot of a trendsetter. These girls are starting a movement, due to the fact that determination are girls who are visually impaired who astatine the infinitesimal don’t deliberation of shot arsenic a viable enactment for them, truthful spell into different sports.

“We perfectly privation these girls to beryllium the trailblazers, to marque definite this is an accessible accidental for immoderate miss eligible to play for England to aspire to person the dream. And our semipermanent ambition is to get unsighted pistillate shot successful the Paralympics.

“That’s wherefore adjacent week is monolithic for women’s unsighted shot (internationally) – we’ve got to show that there’s a question happening crossed the satellite to the Paralympic committee, for that to beryllium considered for a aboriginal Games.”

Blind shot is played five-a-side connected a transportation with sideboards, with players wearing oculus patching and eyeshades, isolated from the goalkeepers.

A shot with audible shot bearings successful is used, and the connection connected the tract includes players shouting ‘voy’ erstwhile going for the shot to awesome their presumption to an opponent.

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