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U.S. blind soccer men's team takes aim at competing on global stage


Notice: Transcripts are machine and human generated and lightly edited for accuracy. They may contain errors.

John Yang: Last fall, the USA blind soccer national team held its first ever tryouts for players with visual impairments. San Diego member station KPBS reports the team has set their hopes on competing in the 2028 Paralympic games.

Cody Kirchner, USA Blind Soccer National Team: I have athletes throughout my family, and I was never able to really partake when I was a kid or participate because I was blind. I discovered blind sports, I fell in love. I fell in love the moment I stepped onto a soccer pitch.

There are four field players on each team. The ball has rattles and aligning of it.

And you are required to say the word voi if you are attacking the ball. I think it's either Spanish or Portuguese for I am coming.

Communication is vital to blind soccer. It's the only way we could really be out here and play a game without it ending up in just everyone being injured. So the goalie is the only person on the field who is sighted. The goalie has perfect vision, I hope, and everyone else wears, as you can probably see now, eyeshades that completely block out all light.

Brandt Herron, USA Blind Soccer National Team: The ball is probably two, three times heavier than a regular size five soccer ball. It's a little smaller, and you know, the beads inside of it trying to kick the ball, definitely it's different.

Katie Smith, Head Coach, USA Blind Soccer Men's National Team: Soccer is a sport that we all know right, and love, so the blind athletes are excited to kind of get out here and try something new. It's also a lot more of a physical sport within the blind sport world, so they have to work on a lot of different skills, from communication to orientation. Their ball skills, it's more physical, but I think that's what makes the game so exciting and great.

Man: If the defender wins it, I just want you to dribble straight past that line and we will communicate with you. I want to see what you do after. If the defender wins it right, we are countering to that line. Defenders and attackers are going to stay in your line for a given amount of time.

Cody Kirchner: To be able to be out here on a 40 x 20 meters field, running as fast as I can, as hard as I can, fighting for a ball, taking shots, it opened up so many dreams.

To represent my nation, my country, to put on a jersey with USA behind on the back of it is just incredible. And then to think of all the blind people who are sitting at home right now thinking they can't do this, they can't do something as simple as crossing a street is, and I'm out here trying to represent them, trying to spread this message that, yes, you can. You can do those things, and if you do them well enough, you can one day I put on this jersey too.

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