A Midland student has helped the England blind football team secure a place in the sport's World Cup next year.
Ajmal Ahmed (below), a sports science student at Worcester University, has won 35 England caps and helped the team finish third in the European Blind Championships after a victory over Greece.
The England team, coached by former Hereford and Wrexham player Tony Larkin, had been defeated 3-1 by current champions Spain in the semi-finals. But the team bounced back with a 1-0 win over Greece, avenging an earlier 2-0 defeat in the competition.
The victory was enough to secure the team a route through to the World Cup, which will be held in Argentina next year.
There are eight blind players in the ten-strong squad, the team comprising four blind out-field players and a sighted goalkeeper.
The keeper, along with the coach and a guide behind the opposition goal, is able to offer verbal guidance. The ball contains ball bearings, the sound of which helps the players to locate the football.
Ajmal, 25, is one of several students supported by the University through its Talented Athletes Scholarship Scheme (TASS), and he is delighted over England's qualification.
"Leading up to this competition we've been training four times a week and really building up our fitness to compete at this top level," he said.
Glyn Harding, senior sports lecturer and talented athlete coordinator at the University of Worcester, is delighted with Ajmal's success. Along with Mr Larkin, who is based at the Royal
National College for the Blind in Hereford, he has coordinated a number of training demonstrations with members of the England Blind Football team at the University.
"The emphasis is on close control and using only a small amount of backlift in a shot, to make sure a player doesn't fall off balance and knock the ball too far away from their feet," he said.