English News

"If I don't speak, these fans are blind again"

15 years of reporting for the blind at VfL.

"The Green-Whites are moving the ball around well before a foul on Renato Steffen leads to a free-kick. The referee is taking out the vanishing spray and the visitors are setting up a wall, about 35 metres out, slightly left of centre. Maximilian Arnold grabs the ball and although Admir Mehmedi is also interested in taking the free-kick, Arnold hits it but sees his fierce drive blocked." 

It's 0-0 at the Volkswagen Arena, where approximately 25,000 fans have witnessed VfL's positive start at home to SC Freiburg. Although some visually impaired supporters in the stands are unable to see Bruno Labbadia's men play, they can still follow the action on the pitch thanks to Paul Beßler, who has been reporting on the Wolves' home games for the blind community for the last 15 years. 

"If I don't speak, these fans are blind again," said the 73-year-old, for whom the Freiburg match was his 350th as a reporter for the blind. His first, against Bayer Leverkusen, was back in 2003. The distinction between a reporter and a commentator is significant here because he gives an account of even the smallest details, with positional descriptions particularly important. Simply saying left or right is not enough; more is needed and context must be given, so the names of the terraces – the main stand, away stand, north stand and the Wölfi end – are key indicators. The reporter has to relate exactly where the ball is, how the players are performing and what the referee is doing.