Jose Richard is an avid football fan and has always dreamed of experiencing a live match, despite being deaf and blind.
Although he can’t experience the game through sight or sound, Richard is able to understand what happens on the pitch thanks to his aide Cesar Daza, who uses a specially developed board in conjunction with a form of language with his hands.
The teen was born with a low hearing capacity, which he lost completely aged nine. Six years down the line, and Richard also lost his sense of sight, and it was at this point his life took a massive hit.
In an interview with Marca, he said: “I tried to kill myself. God gave me the strength to fight and overcome adversity. Cesar is my interpreter, my guide and my brother.”
Richard also found football to be his other guiding light, with his aid Daza offering the tools he needs to interpret the game.
By working with Richard to create a way of ‘seeing’ football with limited senses, the project took the pair all the way to Barcelona where Richard was given the opportunity to fulfill his dream by attending the famous stadium.
Daza described how the idea came from Richard when the pair started playing the game on a board.
“The board is the pitch and then, between the two of us, we decided on a series of signals. He knows what a shot is, as well as a pass into the penalty area and a header,” he told Marca.
Inspirational, to say the least. Ironically, although Richard and Daza developed this method together, they both support different teams in their country Colombia – the former following Millonarios and the latter, Santa Fe.
Thankfully they haven’t let their difference of opinions get in the way. Although Daza was concerned at the thought of Richard wearing his Millonarios shirt at a Sante Fe match, the crowd members were accepting of him.
“When I saw him wear that, I was worried because I realize football is sometimes dangerous.
“At first I was afraid, but everyone respects us. This is why we now want to spread a message of peace and tolerance in stadiums.”
The pair are also facing a potential partnership with La Liga for developing the board that deaf-blind people can use in conjunction with hand movements to fully understand what is happening on the pitch.
So not only have they changed the course of Richard’s life, but they could also potentially help dozens of others to do the same.