The Commonwealth games are taking place very soon, with the opening ceremony on the 28th of July and the closing ceremony on the 8th of August. It takes a variety of different skills, dedication and belief to get to this level as a sportsperson. Similarly, some people have to use these qualities in life in order to be able to step out and do something new. No matter how seemingly small it might appear to be with the right direction we can achieve positive change. Trying a new activity or working hard at a familiar activity, when yes, it might be difficult at first is a very important part of achieving whatever our goal may be. It is important to have the ability to keep on trying and finding ways to grow and develop.
To explore this in a real-life situation we spoke to Azeem Amir. Azeem is 23 years old and has been vision impaired since birth. Azeem shared some of the qualities which he developed or needed, to be able to achieve his goal. Azeem has never allowed his vision impairment be a barrier to success. Azeem plays blind football professionally for the England and Great Britain blind football team and is working towards achieving international success. Playing across the globe, he and the team are aiming to qualify for the next Paralympics
Azeem told us that: ‘An obstacle that I’ve faced has been managing and balancing a dual career, however, with doing something you love and also having great people around you who are enthusiastic and motivational, as long as you keep organised and don’t let the to-do list get too long, I feel we are all able to manage it well!’
‘Something I’d tell my younger self is – to never overthink things too much and don’t hesitate when taking the plunge into something which, deep down you know is what you really want to do. Always go with your gut feeling!’
What was the one thing you found difficult that you over came when you were young with your vision impairment?
The one thing I particularly found difficult when I was younger was struggles around perception from others of me when using a cane whilst walking around. I would prefer using a sighted guide but as I grew up, I realised that this wasn’t always going to be available so, I slowly built my confidence around becoming more and more comfortable using my cane and this has helped me so much with my independence
What skill did you know you had to learn but found it initially difficult, but you did it in the end?
I always found asking for help quite difficult as I’m a very determined individual and will always try and do things by myself, however, as time went on I realised that getting some help or assistance can go a long way in making life slightly easier and most people are very kind and supportive!
How did you first get into blind football?
Blind Football was showcased to me at a local council event called, ‘Playground to Podium’, where I first gave it a go and this led me onto beginning to train recreationally with a local team.
Are you attending any of the Commonwealth games?
Yes, fingers crossed! I’m going to try and get down to a couple of the events taking place.
What have you achieved that was out of your comfort zone?
Starting a business was definitely something that pushed me out of my comfort zone. Due to how much initial effort it took and the uncertainty around the pandemic, however, I stuck to it and now with the support of some amazing people I see the organisation growing and developing day by day!
Azeem is the founder of Learn With ESS. Learn With ESS is a workshop initiative which uses education, sport and speaking based activities to provide a unique and interactive experience whilst addressing issues surrounding disability. You can find out more about Learn With ESS by clicking here: Disability Awareness and Team Cohesion Program | Learn With ESS
Azeem shares his top tips for life!
1 There’s never harm in having a conversation with someone new
2 Don’t be afraid to blow your own trumpet
3 Do everything you can to turn passion into a profession
4 Never be afraid to ask for help
5 Always remember that people only see the medal and not the blood, sweat and tears that go into achieving it
Thank you for sharing your journey with us Azeem. You are certainly inspirational.
Below are ideas and events for active growth which you can have a go at.
1 Read Aloud-Find out what sort of books you like and enjoy reading them to friends and family http://www.clearvisionproject.org/Books/index.html
2 Borrow ‘Talking Books’ from your local library.
3 Go for a walk – A walk in the park to enjoy the sights and sounds of nature.
4 Listen or dance to music on radio/youtube/TV
5 Gardening – pot a plant Buy a couple of pots or empty plastic pots for recycling, soil/compost and some herb seeds; parsley, basil, thyme. Caring for plants is very therapeutic.
6 Make a fruit Salad or vegetable salad: For fruits: Buy soft fruit such as bananas, kiwi fruit and grapes. Serve the fruit salad with ice cream. Do the same with vegetables of choice but without the ice cream!
7 Go for a drink or a meal: Places where kids eat free – Summer Holidays 2022 | hotukdeals
8 Cook Something Cooking together provides the opportunity for wonderful conversations & sensory stimulation.
On-line ideas for activities to try:
1 A Guide To Visually Impaired Friendly Sport
3 Accessible sport for visually impaired children | VICTA Parent Portal (victaparents.org.uk)
• RSBC are hosting a range of activities, including a Cycling session, Music Quiz, Assistive Technology Sessions and Audio Book Clubs. Calendar of Activities – RSBC
• VICTA Sunflower Race, British Blind Sports Have A Go Day, VICTA Summer Camp Activity calendar – VICTA
• Disability swimming every Saturday at Ladywood Leisure Centre. Just turn up, no booking needed. £3.15 per person, carers free, fully accessible facility.
• Space Hoppers in West Bromwich offer great fun for all ages. Entrance is free of charge for children with disabilities attending with their families. Space Hoppers Tel: 0121 580 4914