Malaysian blind football film to premiere in London

A screengrab from the Eye On The Ball documentary film, which follows the remarkable story of the Malaysian national blind football team as they battled to qualify for the World Cup of blind football.
PHOTO: The Star/Asia News Network

PETALING JAYA - An inspiring documentary on Malaysia's "Harimau Buta" national blind football team is set to captivate audiences in London, Manchester and Newcastle in the following weeks.

The Eye On The Ball documentary film, directed by filmmaker Chen Yih Wen from the award-winning R.AGE team, follows the remarkable journey of a group of part-time blind footballers who became ASEAN Para Games gold medalists.

WATCH THE EYE ON THE BALL TRAILER

It is set to be released in Malaysian cinemas this December, but first, it will have its international premiere at the Aperture Asia & Pacific Film Festival in London (Sept 12), Manchester (Sept 14) and Newcastle (Sept 17).

"We're extremely proud to be able to bring the Harimau Buta's story - a truly Malaysian story - to the international stage, " said Chen.

Eye On The Ball follows the Malaysian national blind football team, nicknamed "Harimau Buta", during their unlikely campaign to qualify for the World Cup of blind football.

It also highlights the emotional backstories of several key players, and how they overcame poverty and being marginalised by society to become national sporting heroes - despite remaining relatively unknown to most Malaysians.

Eye On The Ball delves deep into the lives and emotional backstories of Malaysia's blind footballers such as Mohamad Asri Arshad, who dedicated the last few years of his life to the "Harimau Buta" jersey. PHOTO: The Star/ Asia News Network 

"Despite the blind footballers' historic success while representing Malaysia, they still don't have enough support to continue developing their sport.

"Employment and education opportunities for visually impaired communities are also lacking. Hopefully, this film will help change that, " added Chen.

R.AGE deputy executive editor and producer Ian Yee said R.AGE hopes to use proceeds from the film's cinema run to further develop the blind football team's cause.

The award-winning investigative and impact journalism team will also be running several blind football events for members of the public to try out the sport, alongside the national blind footballers themselves.

Director Chen Yih Wen (second from left) spent nearly two years filming the Malaysian blind footballers, following their many ups and downs as they sought to keep the team going. PHOTO: The Star/ Asia News Network 

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime story, and a once-in-a-lifetime chance to really change Malaysians' perceptions about the visually-impaired community.

"That's why R.AGE and CIMB Foundation created this project: to help the blind football team continue using sports to empower people with disabilities, all across Malaysia, " said Yee.

The Eye On The Ball campaign is sponsored by CIMB Foundation, one of the biggest supporters of the blind football community since it was established.

Find out more about the campaign and subscribe for updates on the film at www.eyeontheballfilm.com.

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