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The blind footballer making waves in Paris

By Babatunde Ojora
16 November 2021   |   12:17 pm
The saying that - there is ability in disability can be said of Yvan Wouandji Kepmegni, a blind footballer who has looked beyond is current condition despite being blind. His blindness hasn’t cut his dream short. Born in Douala, Cameroon as a twin to Eugene Wouandji, and Yvette Wouandji. His twin brother Yven currently works…

The saying that – there is ability in disability can be said of Yvan Wouandji Kepmegni, a blind footballer who has looked beyond is current condition despite being blind. His blindness hasn’t cut his dream short.

Born in Douala, Cameroon as a twin to Eugene Wouandji, and Yvette Wouandji. His twin brother Yven currently works in an economic institution in Paris. Yvan and Yven were born six months prematurely. They were placed in an incubator but due to the bad quality of the incubator, the twins got near-sightedness known as myopia – a vision condition in which you can see objects near to you clearly, but objects farther away will be blurry.

Yvan suddenly became blind at the age of 10 due to retinal detachment. The mom took him to France in search of a solution but to no avail.

The genesis
After two failed operations, Yvan and his mom accept to live with the disability, he got enrolled In the National Institute for Young Blind People in Paris, where he learned Braille – the language for blind people. The 28 year old utility player said he discovered blind football through the Institute for young blind people.

“I started learning the braille language – a language for people who have challenges of seeing (blind). I discover activities for blind people through the school. I didn’t know that one can be blind and do a lot of things as sports or other activities.

“I use to like football before turning blind and that also made me decided to play the Cecifoot – Football for blind or partially blind people.

He began practicing at the age of 13 and joined the AVH Paris Cécifoot team. In 2011 he joined the French team, making him the youngest player in the French national team then.

In 2015, Yvan scored a goal that was considered the goal of the year in blind football against Germany during an International game.

Yvan has won numerous trophies, personally and collectively with his team. Blind football has taken him to places. In 2013 he was presented the French National Order of Merit. He has met with two French Presidents; Francois Hollande and Emmanuel Macron. Yvan is also a consultant for RMC – a spot TV station in France.

The 28 year old athlete have a dream to develop blind football all over the world and would like to start from his country of birth, Cameroon.

“My dream is to help blind people in the world, particularly in Cameroon, to improve their lifestyle, studies, to be able to read, learn and be happy to do what they want. They need to also believe in themselves for all this to happen.
“The authorities also need to assist, like the coaches and families. I will like to play with them, teach them Braii language and even donate some cecifoot kits and football.

How the game is being played
Unlike mainstream football where spectators make loud noises, blind football etiquette dictates they remain silent.

This is to allow the players to hear each other and, importantly, the ball. It contains a number of ball bearings that make a noise when it moves to allow the players to locate it.

The teams are made up of five players, four blind outfields all on masks (to prevent the partially blind from seeing), and a sighted goalkeeper. This is to make sure that partially sighted players do not have an unfair advantage. In blind football, the teams are made up of five-player, four blind outfields, and a sighted goalkeeper. This is to make sure that partially sighted players do not have an unfair advantage.