For Tom Rogers, 25, his first steps in the beautiful game back in Crawley, came about in much the same way as many others.
“I think it all started when I was six or maybe seven years-old, when I just started kicking a ball around with my mates,” said Rogers, “but it wasn’t until I started at the Royal College of the Blind, over in Hereford, that things really changed for me.”
For Rogers that change was being introduced to visually impaired Futsal, an adapted form of futsal, also known as B2/3 football.
The rules are based on Futsal, but with a small number of adaptations, for example the ball should be a colour that clearly contrast with the pitch and lines, light must be of equal intensity on all parts of the pitch, and the goalkeeper is unable to leave the penalty area if they are fully sighted.
“Futsal at college was the first time I realised I could actually go and play, and not just play, but play with other people on a level playing field.
“I’d always struggled with mainstream football, because I just wouldn’t get picked for the school teams, as everyone could see, and I couldn’t. So, it was a great feeling to know there was a league for people like me.”
Whilst the Futsal league introduced Rogers to the world of Partially Sighted football, it was getting involved with our Disability Representative Squad that took things to another level.
“I remember I was just playing 6-a-side with my mates, and one of the coaches happened to also be with Crawley United, who compete in the Sussex Disability Football League.
“He invited me along and I started playing with them, and it was from that that I first got the call to join the Sussex team.
“Before joining Sussex I’d not played much 11-a-side football, so it was definitely a new experience,” said Rogers.
Indeed, such was his lack of experience in playing 11-a-side, that he ended up playing at centre-back when his first game kicked-off.
“They started me out at centre-back for my first game, as that was where I played when I played 7-a-side,” said Rogers.
“However, by the end of the first-half we’d conceded two goals, so rightly the manager made the call to move me to the wing, and we went onto draw the game 2-2, and then win on penalties, so it was definitely the right call to move me up the pitch!”