Merseyside Blind & Visually Impaired F.C. are pursuing European glory this weekend as they take part in the Bučovice Blind Football Cup.  

Described as “the best club tournament” in blind football, six teams will be battling it out across two days of action in the Czech Republic.   

This is the ninth edition of the BBFC, which has been running since 2013. Teams from Greece, Germany, Austria and Belgium join Merseyside and the home team, Avoy MU Brno.


Merseyside Blind & V.I. enter the tournament for the first time, following in the footsteps of English sides West Bromwich Albion and four-time winners Worcester BFC.

Star man and England international Rainbow Mbuangi could barely hide his enthusiasm over taking part.

He said:“Playing in the Czech Republic is so amazing because we get to travel to different places and bring back more trophies. This is a tournament that a couple of us are experiencing for the first time.

“The team that we have got and will be taking is a pretty young and inexperienced team, but we are all motivated and ready for the challenge.  The team bonding and team spirit shows that we are all together and will fight for each other. We have good laughs on and off the pitch and stick together, as it is key in blind football.”

The Merseysiders are in good form, winning the Hamburg Masters in Germany last week. They successfully retained the trophy – having won it twelve months ago – and will be hoping to continue their winning run in Bučovice. 

The in-form Merseyside Blind & V.I. F.C. squad

Serious long-term planning goes into running the Cup, with government funding applications made 12 months ago. A combination of state and commercial sponsorship has contributed to a budget of around 700,000 Czech Koruna, roughly £25,000. Every penny and more is poured back into the event, with most volunteers working for free. 

Organiser Jitka Carcouët has been involved with the competition from the start. She explained why it has such a good reputation in blind football circles.

“Every little detail here is blind friendly. The trophies are audible and with braille on. They all get tactile maps of the surroundings,” she said. 

“Everybody has their own water bottle with their name in braille. We are really into our details. We are trying to make every year better and better – we like challenges!” 

The 3D-printed tactile trophies awarded to participants

The BBFC website is littered with glowing testimonials from former participants. The positive comments are evidence of a job well done by the organisers. Such high praise goes a long way to keeping the event running year after year.

Carcouët said: “The feedback we get back from the players who are here is simply very touching and amazing because we are trying to make it as professional as possible.

“Also, we would put our hearts in it all as volunteers. It’s a whole year process to get the money to make it happen. We choose the teams who have a bit of the same feeling, like us. They do this work with love. That’s how it goes.”

Merseyside open the tournament with a match against the home side on Saturday at 9.30am CET.

The action will culminate on Sunday at 2pm CET, when the final will be taking place. Live coverage is available at, with former England Blind goalkeeper Dan James part of the commentary team.

Graclíková believes the field is more open than ever before.

She said:“In the previous years, there was always a kind of, ‘This one is a sure winner.’ This year it doesn’t look like that. I think really, everybody can win. It can be Merseyside.” 

Encouragement – if it were needed – for the newcomers. With one European trophy already in the bag this autumn, hopes will be high for a second victory in as many weeks.


Bučovice Blind Football Cup 2017 YouTube film made by Jaroslav Beneš. Used with permission.