This summer, 1,077 blind and partially sighted athletes from 70 countries will compete across 10 different sports at the IBSA World Games in Birmingham and the wider region, including qualifying events for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games. As part of our build-up to the Games, British Blind Sport is highlighting athletes to raise awareness of inclusive sports in the UK.
"Being an athlete isn't a job it's a 24-hourlifestyle."
Meet Dylan, 28, from Hereford. Dylan is the goalkeeper for the England blind football team. Blind football is for those players classified as B1. It consists of 4 blind outfield players and a sighted goalkeeper. Below, Dylan shares his journey into sport:
"I was playing futsal at Loughborough University when I was approached by Tony Elliot who asked if I would like to attend a camp due to injury. Nine years later, I'm still here learning and improving every day in the sport that I love!
Sport is a part of who I am and competing at the highest level is one I cherish. I am fortunate to work at the Royal National College for the Blind (RNC) who are very understanding of my role as the England goalkeeper, as well as having a very supportive wife.
There are always challenges when getting into sport, but I like to think of solutions not hurdles. Whenever I come across a challenge even now, I approach it with an open mind and a level of resilience to the situation.
Like an athletes journey it's full of highs and lows, that is the guarantee. The highs of my career personally have been achieving two World Cup finals, three World Grand Prix finals, four bronze European medallists and being awarded World and European Goalkeeper of the Tournament."
The IBSA World Games will feature Paralympic qualification events for three sports including men's blind football. Dylan said: "The goal is to focus on the processes we have been working on as a team since new management, and ensure I enjoy every moment out on that pitch. Doing these things, the outcome of the tournament will look after itself and fingers crossed, we get that pass for Paris 2024 Paralympic Games!
He added: "I'm looking forward to having all our friends and family attend the matches. We spend hours every day working towards a tournament and most of the time they are watching the matches on the TV. To have our family and friends in the stands cheering us on will be a moment to take in and cherish.
I hope the impact is one that will improve greater awareness of visually impaired sport in the UK and therefore create greater opportunities for increased participation, more coaches, and volunteers to help grow every sport at the Games.
If you're thinking about coming to support the Games, please come down to watch!"
Thinking of his England role and work with the RNC, Dylan said: "The benefits of participating in sport are as much mental as they are physical. If you are thinking of getting involved, try all different types of sports, reach out to British Blind Sport who will help signpost you to local provision and have an open mind when participating. And when you are participating, make sure you're smiling!"
To find out more about blind football, visit our A-Z Sport of section.
For more information about the IBSA World Games and to book tickets, visit: https://www.ibsagames2023.co.uk