As the children pour into the small hall of TSG Vorwärts in Frankfurt's Rödelheim district, the background noise increases. Ten boys and girls from the Niddagaustraße children's center, all between six and ten years old, are supposed to learn a new sport on Monday morning: blind football. The children always have the urge to move. Hasan Koparan, 33, a blind soccer player, has been in charge of the training for over 15 years. Back when he was still a student himself, the national coach of the German blind football team came to his school. That was when he caught fire, recalls Koparan, who is himself visually impaired. “I've been there from the very first minute, since the sport has existed in Germany.” There are now 100 to 150 active blind footballers nationwide, he estimates.

Before the training starts, he explains his sport to the children: The game is played with dark glasses so that everyone has the same requirements, because not all players are visually impaired in the same way. The ball rattles so the athletes can hear it. Instead of eleven against eleven, teams of five people each play, including a sighted goalkeeper. So that the players always know where they are, there are sighted coaches who shout out loud to give orientation aids. “Can't you even see your shoes?” A boy from Koparan wants to know. "No. Are they beautiful? ”He asks back.

The mood is good with the blind footballer, who has been in charge of such training sessions for six years.

“The offer has been received very positively,” he says.

Büsra Duman and Birk Gebauer from the “New Sports Experience” initiative and the deputy director of the children's center, Tobias Müller, help with the structure and the individual exercises.

The children are exuberant.

Gebauer asks for silence, because if you can't see, you have to rely on your hearing when playing football, he says.

That doesn't always work out well on this day, the foreign sport is too exciting for the children.

The narrow, musty hall does the rest with its acoustics.

Demanding exercises

When it comes to putting on the glasses, there is renewed restlessness: “How should we know where the ball is?” Asks a boy.

One girl paid attention: "It rattles." The situation is unusual.

“I can't see anything!” Shouts one of the students, “Help”, laughs another who has already stormed off.

Robbed of their eyesight by the dark glasses, the children run around with outstretched hands.

Their movements are a bit reminiscent of Frankenstein's monster.

"We'll try that you support each other," Koparan introduces the first exercise.

The children should form two rows in which only the last person is allowed to see and guide the person in front.

The snakes collide quickly and the children tumble on top of each other.

They have fun anyway, as they assure when asked by the trainer.

The next exercise is also challenging. Koparan jogs around the hall with the ball in a circle, guided by Gebauer, who runs backwards in front of him and keeps saying "Here". Dribbling looks light-footed with professionals. When the children try the same thing, it becomes clear that you have to be able to rely on your seeing partner. A boy hits the wall because his partner was inattentive. But it stands up again quickly.

At first the children run around wildly with or without dark glasses.

Later they tend to grope along, at least while they are wearing their glasses.

Again and again they pull them off, watching the balls kick around.

Sure, it's easier.

Nevertheless, it is noticeable that every exercise starts out chaotically, but after a short period of getting used to it, the footballers cope better with the tasks.

This is also the case with the practice for shooting at goal.

Gebauer is behind the gang that surrenders the gate today.

Koparan dribbles towards it with the ball, Gebauer guides him again with his calls here.

If he is close enough to the goal, Gebauer gives the command “Shot!” And the ball lands on the target.

"Only a fraction of what the sport really is"

The children, on the other hand, usually do not meet at first. A boy in a blue sweatshirt bolts the ball meters from the target before the command. When he listens to his helper behind the gang on the second attempt, the ball lands in the goal. Towards the end, some shots are impressively precise. Finally, the children can ask their questions to the blind footballer. They are particularly fascinated by the way he uses his cell phone. It reads everything to him.

"The children did well for their age." The sometimes lack of concentration is normal.

“When I think about how I was then, it was the same,” he says.

In training sessions like this, the children would learn “only a fraction of what the sport really is,” he says.

Even so, the students seem to have gotten an idea of ​​what it means to have impaired vision.

Even if they will probably play again without dark glasses in the future.

Keywords: hasan koparan, glasses., footballer, student, children, initiative, birk gebauer, football, blind, sport, insight, ball, everyone, training, another