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Published 27 October 2022 5 min read
England Para Teams

'It’s not just about playing football, it’s everything else...'

Written by:

James Reid

Meet the England Women's blind team goalkeeper, who explains her role and how she got there via her grassroots involvement


Katie Christopher only got into blind football by chance but now the sighted goalkeeper is grabbing the opportunity with both hands as she represents England.

Christopher, 23, found herself in goal for the England men’s blind team when she was volunteering for VICTA, a charity that supports blind and partially sighted children.

She then became a permanent fixture in blind football and is now a key figure in the new women’s blind squad that was formed in 2021.  

“The England men’s team were training on the blind pitch at the Royal National College for the Blind in Hereford and I just happened to be watching them as they were there,” said Christopher.

“Next thing I know I’m called over, I explained who I was, and I’m in goal and I’ve got the England men’s captain Dan English shooting at me.

“It was a big shock, I wasn’t expecting it at all but I absolutely loved it and I’m a bit mad so I didn’t mind getting absolutely smashed by a ball.”
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Since the team's formation, development has been rapid and the squad meet for regular training camps at St. George's Park.

“The changes since last September - you wouldn’t even imagine it,” added Christopher.

“We went from not being able to kick a ball to playing a game and facing the likes of Italy and Germany, it’s absolutely insane.

“The blind league has been fantastic, they’re actively encouraging the females to play in the blind league with the intention of having a female only league.

“That’ll be huge for the girls here as playing against men is completely different, it’s so much more physical so as an outfield player with a blindfold on it must be very daunting.”

The development of the women’s game is one Christopher knows well, having struggled with the lack of provision for girls while growing up as a player in mid-Wales.

“I started playing when I was seven at a local grassroots club in mid-Wales and it was with a boys' team, I played with them for years and then it got to when I was ten and they said I couldn’t play with the boys anymore.

“When I was younger, I used to play in a boys’ team but now girls where I live from four can play in girls only set up. It’s huge how much it has improved and progressed.

“It’s really important to grow the game and grow it for everyone and make it a level playing field.”

The England Women's blind team in training at St. George's Park earlier this year
The England Women's blind team in training at St. George's Park earlier this year
A level playing field is something Christopher is passionate about in both her roles as a football coach and as a teacher at the RNC in Hereford.

It’s something passed on to her by her mum, who set up her own girls' team – Llandrindod Wells Junior Girls - after her daughter was no longer allowed to play boys’ football.

“It started off with me and a few of my friends that I dragged in and there's now over 130 girls playing for the club,” said Christopher.

“She’s inspired me with my coaching journey. She’s instilled that passion - if you believe in something to go and do it.

“My passion is girls’ football but getting disabled girls playing is even more important to me.

“I see the girls every day and the amount they get out of playing sport is huge, it’s not just about playing football it’s everything else, it's all the extra skills they get.

“It’s the confidence about walking down the street – if they can run around on a football pitch, they can walk on a street quite confidently.”
The goalkeeper is the only member of a blind football team who can be fully-sighted
The goalkeeper is the only member of a blind football team who can be fully-sighted
The hope for Christopher is to grow the game, with a hope that more sighted goalkeepers get involved.

“It’s a special position but I absolutely love it,” she added.

“It’s such an intense game, as a goalkeeper I’m constantly busy whereas in an eleven-a-side game I could quite easily go ten minutes without touching the ball.

“What needs to happen is more mainstream goalkeepers need to see it and see the challenge.

“If it was exposed more to them, I’d have a bit more competition and other goalkeepers would be wanting to play it.

“At the moment it’s almost as if you’re not involved with the blind world, you don’t know about it.

“It’s about encouraging more girls to play, letting them try it in a no pressure situation, let them try it for fun and they’ll grow to love the game.”