Blind Aylesbury athlete discusses 'class' experience captaining Disability FA Cup 2022 champions

Once again a young athlete from Aylesbury starred in the Disability FA Cup, but this time he was playing with the added responsibility of captaining his side.

By James Lowson
Monday, 20th June 2022, 3:43 pm

For the second consecutive year, Kieran Clarke, was an integral part of the Royal National College For The Blind (RNC) Hereford team that won the blind football competition.

This year was different, with the event coinciding with the IBSA Blind Football European Championships in Italy, new opportunities emerged for less experienced players.

Read More

Read More
Blind Aylesbury midfielder triumphs at FA Disability Cup Final

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Kieran Clarke from Aylesbury, photo by Jay Watson

Kieran, who lost his eyesight at the age of five, was one of the beneficiaries taking over the captaincy at the tournament, however he was the last to know.

He told The Bucks Herald: “I got a call from the FA saying ‘we want to speak to you about the game’.

"They said: ‘how do you feel about being captain?’

"I said ‘I didn’t know I was captain’. Our usual coach he’s the goalkeeper for the England team.

Kieran Clarke has won two FA Disability Cup titles, photo by Jay Watson

"So, he went out to the Euros in Italy, he must have put me down as captain, but I wasn’t even aware until a couple of weeks before.

"It definitely added a bit of pressure, but it was class to captain the team.”

The 21-year-old felt more comfortable competing on the national stage this year at the tournament which aired on BT Sport.

Kieran Clarke captained the triumphant RNC Hereford team, photo by Jay Watson

Kieran was still a relative novice when playing at last year’s tournament having only discovered the sport at college.

A natural athlete, Kieran had previously excelled at Judo, winning high level martial arts contests against fully-sighted opponents.

He added: “This year, I had an extra year of training and I just felt I knew the game better.

"I was able to make more of an influence on the game, [it felt like] I had a bit more time on the ball.

"With a lot of players being away with England, there was a bit more time for less experienced players.”

Kieran has applied to complete another year at RNC, and is still weighing up whether to go to university.

In September he will become a qualified judo coach, he currently assists at his college dojo teaching others the ins and outs of the sport.

RNC Hereford beat Brighton Hove Albion on penalties in the Disability FA Cup Final on 11 June.