Football for Everyone
Mälarhöjden, South West of Stockholm, is home for Sweden’s first blind football team. Funka’s partnership officer Erik Lanne got to know about the team during a research project in Bratislava. How did the story begin?
MIK Sound, Sweden’s first blind football team, once started at a small and slippery pitch south of Stockholm. The team was founded in 2014 by Mälarhöjdens Idrottsklubb (MIK) in cooperation with Parasport Stockholm and the local division of The Swedish Association of the Visually Impaired.
Project leader Mark Blake saw a chance to make football more accessible and the project received funding both from the Swedish Inheritance Fund and the Swedish Sports Confederation. Already during the first few trainings, players came from all over Stockholm to play five-a-side, or blind football, where teams of four players and a sighted goalkeeper play against each other.
Five-a-side is a crash course in empathy and the pitch is a good example of universal design, enabling everyone to play, says Mark Blake, trainer of MIK Sound.
In December, MIK Sound was awarded the S:t Julian Prize by the city of Stockholm. The jury specially highlighted MIK Sound Junior, the youth team for visually impaired players up to fifteen years old. Looking ahead, Mark Blake hopes that MIK Sound can help develop other parasport activities in Sweden and that five-a-side for women will one day be in the Paralympic games, as it already is for men.
This is not a project anymore, MIK Sound and MIK Sound Junior are integrated in the club just like any other team, summarizes Mark Blake.
MIK Sound organizes yearly meetups where players come from all over Sweden to try five-a-side. The team has also taken part in a tournament abroad and played against a team with connection to the Masaryk University in Brno, which Funka cooperates with in a project to increase accessibility for the visually impaired in Slovakia.
Photo: Jonas Lindkvist