Camp organized by the American Association of Blind Athletes and the Charlotte Independence Soccer Club

Chicago Skyhawks NWBA Basketball League Coach Sheena Hager, along with several other coaches and athletes from across the United States, hosted Blind Soccer ID Camp in Rock Hill, SC

The event took place July 8-10 and was organized by the United States Blind Athletes Association (USABA) in conjunction with the Charlotte Independence Soccer Club.

“As the newly certified national governing body for blind football in the United States, we are accelerating the identification of our talent with camps across the country,” said USABA program director Kevin Brousard. “This week’s camp in Rock Hill gives us a good mix of experienced athletes from previous camps alongside newcomers to the sport. We look forward to the three days of instruction and scrum to help develop these athletes.

According to the USABA, blind football is an adaptation of football for athletes with visual impairments. The sport is played in 60 countries and has become the fastest growing Paralympic sport in the world. In January, USABA received the highest level of certification from the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee to be the National Governing Body (NGB) for the Paralympic sport of blind football. Known worldwide as blind football, the sport has been part of the Paralympic Games program since 2004.

This was the second in a series of Building Blind Soccer events funded by US Soccer’s Innovate to Grow grant. The camp consisted of three full days of training with two field sessions each day at Manchester Meadows (337 E. Mt. Gallant Road, Rock Hill, SC).

In addition to the three full days of practice, camp participants also attended Friday night’s game between the Charlotte Independence and the Richmond Kickers. The group honored blind football athlete and veteran Casimir Werda (Novi, Mich.) at halftime during their military appreciation night.

The United States will make its Paralympic debut as host country of the Los Angeles Games in 2028 and last week’s camp in Rock Hill was an important step in identifying talented athletes for the first-ever national team of United States football blind to be named in October.

The first international competition for the United States First Blind Soccer Team will take place in December in Guatemala at the IBSA Central American Championships.

Among the 12 participating athletes will be three-time Paralympic track and field athlete David Brown (Chula Vista, CA). Brown was the gold medalist in the 100 meters at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games and was the first totally blind athlete to run under 11 seconds when he clocked 10.92 in 2014. Fil Wilkinson, manager of Community Involvement for Charlotte Independence and Director of Adult Soccer for Rock Hill, will be one of three coaches leading the camp.

For more information on how blind soccer is played, visit https://www.usaba.org/sports/blind-soccer/paralympic-sport/.

Below is the list / coaches of the camp:

Composition of the camp: Noah Beckman (Dublin, Ohio); David Brown (Chula Vista, CA); Kevin Brown (Falls Church, Virginia); Ricardo Castaneda (Fort Worth, Texas); Meghan Grenda (Redlands, CA); Cody Kirchner (New Brunswick, NJ); Jadyn Heilman (Oakland, CA); Alvaro Mora (Phoenix, Ariz.); Jasmine Murrell (Plainfield, NJ); Jefferson Palacios (Baltimore, Maryland); Ahmed Shareef (Staten Island, NY) Casimir Werda (Novi, Michigan).

Coaches: Sheena Hager (Chicago, IL); Katie Smith (Columbus, Ohio); Philip Wilkinson (Charlotte, North Carolina).



Joseph Phillips is the sports editor of the Chicago Crusader Newspaper. He is originally from Chicago and has been a sports journalist for over 17 years. He also hosts the SC Media News and Sports Network Q&A radio show on WHPK 88.5 FM Chicago.


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