A professional blind footballer has spoken about how he turned his life around after losing his sight and how Havant & South Downs College (HSDC) is helping him on his journey to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
Brandon Coleman was only 17 when he lost his eyesight in 2012 due to a rare genetic condition. Brandon said the months that followed were ‘the lowest of his life’ as he struggled to come to terms with his condition.
However, his life suddenly had a new focus when he discovered blind football after starting at The Royal National College for the Blind in Hereford in 2014.
He said: “After I lost my sight, I did go off the rails, life went a bit crazy. I felt like I had lost everything, not just my sight but my confidence was gone as well.
“I ended up going to a blind College in Hereford. My life had become so bad and my mental state wasn’t good. I looked really unhealthy. I needed to change my life.”
Brandon studied personal training and events management, followed by a massage course. Whilst he attended the College Brandon was approached by the blind football assistant coach and was asked if he wanted to started playing.
Brandon said: “I picked it up quite quickly then after a few months I was invited to the England camp.
“It was mad, when I went home everyone said how much healthier I looked. I used blind football as a release I began using that to help me forget about being blind.”
Since then, Brandon has skyrocketed to success in the world of blind football. In 2016, he was invited to the Rio de Janeiro Paralympics on the Inspiration Programme to prepare for the Tokyo 2020 games.
He added: “I then moved to Hereford so I could train full time in blind football, and then I played in the 2017 Euros. It was unbelievable that I was selected for the squad – I scored five goals in the first tournament and we came third overall.
“This year I played in the World Cup – I was voted player of the tournament and scored six goals. This year has been a turning point.
“I moved back to Waterlooville in August and have set up my own massage business called Coleman’s Massage Therapies, plus I am training full time for the Euros next year.”
Brandon now trains on the 4G pitch at Havant & South Downs College. And, if the England blind football team makes it to the final of the Euros, he will be on track for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
Speaking about how HSDC helps him with his training, Brandon said: “On a Wednesday or Thursday there’s two to five students who come and help with fitness drills.
“They help facilitate the session but then it also gives me the added pressure of controlling the ball. It does help, and it gives them the opportunity to put on their CVs that they’re coaching a Paralympian – it’s a good opportunity for both of us.
“It’s great to have that opportunity to train at HSDC. It is amazing having this much support from the College especially as it’s local.”
He added: “When I first lost my sight, I had loads of bad thoughts, I didn’t feel like I had anything positive in my life.
“Because I found my focus with blind football, I now believe anything is possible. You can overcome any barrier or challenge in your life as long as you have that focus.
“It shows why you shouldn’t give up – the journey I have been on and the things I have achieved, my life is better now than when I could see. It just shows why you shouldn’t give up.”