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James can’t wait for Games to get started
3:00pm Wednesday 15th August 2012 in Local
TEAM GB’s Paralympic goalkeeper Dan James believes blind football will blow people away at London 2012 – and wants damaging myths to be dispelled in the process.
Sight-stopper James, 25, made his Olympic debut at the Beijing Games just a year after taking up the sport, and admits he was surprised by the standard of play showcased both there and at the first-ever training session he attended in 2007.
And while he prepares for Britain’s first game against Spain on August 31, he hopes the sport can take advantage of the country all tuning in — including many first-time viewers — and convert a new legion of supporters and players.
“It will be one of the most diverse sports at the Paralympics and I think it will be one of the successes of the Games,” said James, a police community support officer who trains with Worcester Blind Football team.
“Anyone who has come to watch in the past or had a go at playing always comes away saying what an amazing experience it was.
“I think people are going to be blown away by it. There is so much going on that people don’t realise and the passing and shooting is so accurate and powerful.
“But there are misconceptions about the sport. There are rumours and people ask silly questions, but there aren’t guide dogs on the pitch and it is not a sport where people keep bumping into each other.
“There are going to be millions of people watching us at home and thousands watching us live and I want the sport to be remembered for a long time.
“I want it to open pathways for other visually impaired players. We are currently amateur professional and I say that in that sense because we are not funded as full-time athletes.
“Any money we get we have to use wisely, but we have got better players than in Beijing by far and they are younger and hungrier players that all want to win. They all work incredibly hard in their spare time.”
The former Exeter City keeper only played a supporting role in Beijing where Britain battled to fifth, but now with five years experience under his belt he believes he is ready to shine under the spotlight.
The Great Britain squad are based at the Royal National College for the Blind (RNC) in Hereford and coached by former Hereford United player Tony Larkin and the University of Worcester ’s David Mycock.
Dan James is a Lloyds TSB Local Hero and member of Paralympics GB. Lloyds TSB is proud partner of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and supporter of ParalympicsGB on their journey to London 2012. lloydstsb.com/london2012