Blind faith for Lasswade teenager captaining England in women's blind European Championships final

A Lasswade teenager captained England in the first ever IBSA women’s blind football European Championships in Italy at the weekend, picking up the silver medal.

Samantha Gough (18) started a busy month, with her prom at Lasswade High School on Friday and 19th birthday to come, by leading the Lionesses out against Germany twice for the final in Pescara on Friday and Sunday, unfortunately losing each match 4-0.

Despite the defeats, Samantha was delighted to have taken part, and to have led the side. She said: “It was absolutely phenomenal, everyone was wonderful. The two games were very competitive, closer than the scores suggest. They took their chances.

"I felt at home playing with the team, and so being captain was really emotional. I started training with them in September, but that was our first competitive games at the weekend. I’m not sure how the competition works exactly but the games against Germany were the final.

Bonnyrigg teenager Samantha Gough with her captain's armband and England shirt for the final.

"Although we lost we played well and have learned a lot, that will help us in the future. It’s all a learning curve.”

Samantha, who also represents Team GB in para sport goalball, is the only female elite player in those sports in Scotland. She said: "I get asked all the time why do I play for England? But it’s just because there is no Scotland team. And it probably wont happen in the meantime, but probably in the future, which might be too late for me.

"I went along to a GB training session for goalball and blind football in 2019 in Hereford. But then Covid hit.

"However, they got back in touch about the England development squad, so I went along to a training session in September last year, from which I was picked for the team.”

Samantha lifts the trophy the team won for coming second at the European Championships.

Although most of the England squad are English-born and aged between 15 and 26, with Samantha and their Welsh-born goalie the only exceptions, she was surprised but delighted to be chosen to lead the team. "I didn’t know until our friendly against Sweden. I felt someone tug on my arm, and so I didn’t know what was going on at first.

"Once I realised, I was crying so much I had to take the blindfold off! It was very emotional. I really enjoy playing for the team and it doesn’t bother me that everyone else is English apart from two of us, we are a proper team.”

Samantha has been visually impaired from birth due to cerebral visual impairment (CVI) – a condition which means the eyes are healthy, however the brain’s visual pathways do not work, resulting in sight loss.