andy page blind football ref

Derbyshire referee at Blind Football Euro Championships

Derbyshire referee represented the country at the IBSA Blind Football European Championships in Rome.

Andy Page, 55, from Ilkeston was one of two English referees selected for the tournament after his successful career.

Andy previously was previously a Level 1 Referee on the Conference and National League, as well as a Football League assistant referee, but he has since moved on to officiated disability sport, specifically blind, partially-sighted, and deaf football.

Speaking about his time in Rome, Andy said: “As the competition progressed, I felt stronger and stronger in myself.

England lost to Spain on penalties in the semi-finals, so the referee in me secretly hoped to be in the final on the pitch.

“As it was, I was appointed third man to the final - Spain vs France - and despite the initial disappointment, I would have taken that at the start of the competition.”

“When I retired from the football league and was offered the opportunity to go into disability sport I never expected to get this far with it, but it’s just such a rewarding experience and the game itself is amazing to watch.

“I’d encourage everyone to check it out.”

Pete Carter, Chairman of Erewash Valley Referee Association, said: “This was a great appointment for Andy and he really deserves it.

“His passion for the game is evident and he gives each game his all so that disabled players can enjoy the game just like everyone else can.” 

The games were live streamed from Rome, and you can watch them back on the FISPIC YouTube channel.

Blind football is played with two five-a-side teams, and all players are blindfolded to ensure the same level of sight.

The game is played with a ball that has a sound system inside of it, which makes the sound of a bell when kicked.

Players have to call “voy” (Spanish for ‘I go’) to make their team-mates aware of their position on the pitch, and as they go to make a tackle.

Earlier this year Andy went to Tokyo to officiate the Blind Football World Grand Prix, and hopes that the Rome appointment will set him up for future selection at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, so he can continue his fantastic work representing Derbyshire and England.