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Claire's love of soccer a sight to behold

A state-of-the-art audible soccer ball has allowed a Canberra junior with a vision impairment to continue her love of the world game.

Proving loss of sight isn't the end of a normal life, 10-year-old Claire Falls hasn't missed a beat with the under-11 Tuggeranong Diamonds despite struggling to see the ball.

Claire has strabismus, a brain disorder in co-ordinating the eyes and affecting depth perception. To allow her to play, teams in her competition use a special ball from Vision Australia containing magnets that emit a loud, rattling sound when it moves.

Decked out in a Canberra United jersey bearing the number of her favourite player, Nicole Sykes, Claire couldn't be happier that she is able to play the game she loves.

''I got really upset and worried that I wouldn't be able to keep playing,'' she said.

''My message to other kids would be that it doesn't matter if you get down in the dumps, you can always pick yourself up again.''


Claire's mother, Shari, contacted Capital Football about using the Vision Australia ball after Claire's eyesight deteriorated quickly since August last year.

The problem was only detected after a mathematics test in which the year five Trinity Christian College student could not identify a three-dimensional diagram.

''She has no three-dimensional vision, no perception of depth and everything to her is flat,'' Shari said.

''She told me the other day that her life is like a moving picture book.''

Claire is learning to cope with her condition and is taking part in training to use a walking cane.

But do not think for one second that will stop the talented fullback from taking to the football pitch.

''I really enjoy defending as I get to help out the goalie and stop goals,'' she said.

''My goal is to be a player for Canberra United and Nicole Sykes is my favourite.''