Visually impaired Cambridge mum on how a stranger helped her to fall in love with blind football

  • A visually impaired mum from Cambridge has spoken of how a chance meeting with a stranger helped her to fall in love with football - just when she'd started to give up on ever playing or coaching the beautiful game. Here, she tells her story to ITV News Anglia's Andy Ward.

By her own admission, when Cambridge mum Zoe Harvey started to lose her sight at the age of 21, she assumed that sport was "off her radar."

Having been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, her sight has deteriorated over the years - to such an extent that she is now registered as severely sight impaired and only has 12.5% vision.

Coming from a family of Cambridge United fans, football had always been in her blood, but she'd never had the confidence to give the sport a try herself.

That was until a chance meeting with a stranger.

While she was standing in the street with her white cane, a man from the U's Community Trust approached her and asked if she'd consider giving blind football a go.

It was an invitation that Zoe couldn't resist, and a couple of years on, not only is she now a visually impaired player, but she always coaches as well.

Zoe coaches a children's team and an adult disability team. Credit: ITV News Anglia

"I thought, yeah, I've got nothing to lose so why not?" she told ITV News Anglia.

"I love just being part of the football community, enabling people to play football and just letting the kids have fun really - and the adults of course!"

As well as coaching her sons under 12s team, Cherry Hinton Lions, Zoe also now looks after Cambridge United's Pan Disability adult team alongside her husband, John.

She's starting to make an impression as a player as well, becoming part of the FA's Women’s Blind Football Talent Pathway and signing up to Brighton and Hove Albion's blind squad.

Zoe is continuing to develop her skills and recently headed to Italy for a special training camp where she learnt from some of the best visually impaired female players and coaches in Europe.

Zoe has recently spent time out in Italy on a special training camp. Credit: Zoe Harvey

Her ultimate goal is to play for England at next summer's Blind Football World Championships in Birmingham - an ambition Zoe never imagined would have been possible a couple of years ago.

Not only has football helped Zoe's confidence to grow, but it has also allowed her to network with a whole group of people in a similar situation to herself, and she says she wants others to know that support is available.

"You may think you're on your own, but there's plenty of people that you can reach out to and there's plenty of visually impaired and blind football people that will help you,' she said.

"It doesn't have to be football. All you have to do is reach out and ask, and it is easier said than done, but there are lots of people out there willing to help."

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