young adult playing vision impaired football.

Name: Sean Poland

County: Offaly

Sport: B2/B3 VI Football

Athlete Story: My sporting life started at a very young age playing hurling with my dad in the garden, I progressed to playing both football and hurling for my school and club growing up, and being involved in Offaly underage hurling development squads. I began playing soccer after I was diagnosed with Stargardts Macular Degeneration at 16 years of age.

I love to be competitive, to strive to give your best and make continuous improvement, and I believe sport gives me this opportunity. It requires the best from yourself in order to succeed. There’s no better feeling than giving a goal all your energy and leaving everything on the field, especially when your team gets a win from your efforts. Prior to playing soccer I played a lot of both hurling and football. Hurling was my first love and I still miss playing the game. I am a massive hurling fan and still go to most Offaly games despite the difficulties seeing the game, I love the atmosphere and culture of the GAA.

The main obstacle I have faced in getting involved in sport and leisure has always been transportation, living in rural Ireland has its challenges as a visually impaired athlete. Lack of public transport limits what activities you can take part in. Despite this I am very lucky to have such a supportive social circle, family and friends have always been amazing to get me to training and offering lifts to social events.

To me, sport means freedom, expression, friendships and purpose.

A photo of a boy playing football a red football indoors

Achievements: The first was representing my country playing VI football and the second was representing my county playing underage hurling.

Heroes: In soccer my favourite athlete is Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a larger than life character who has a no nonsense, get the job done attitude, a massively entertaining player who never fails to inspire a hard work ethic within his team.

Jason Smyth is my favourite Irish paralympic athlete, his precision training, ability to stay in a peak flow state and his clinical like race finishes are massively inspiring and as a young man diagnosed with Stargardts it meant a lot to see somebody else just like me who was successful at achieving his goals.

Advice: My advice to anybody wishing to get involved is to make that first step and ask questions. Sporting organisations are only delighted to welcome in new members and to make sure you get the opportunities you desire. You will never regret getting involved in a sporting or leisure community.



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