Legally blind goalie Isabella Quinn amazed crowds at Friday’s Kanga Cup in Canberra by winning the under-18 girls division Most Valuable Player award.
Despite being completely blind in her right eye and having only 35 per cent of vision in her left, Isabella stunned onlookers by saving goals using her other senses.
Isabella’s eyesight deteriorated after she damaged her optic nerve in a horse-riding accident when she was 14, but that has not stopped her from playing sport.
Isabella Quinn (pictured), turned heads at the Kanga Cup by winning MVP despite being legally blind
Isabella Quinn (pictured) is completely blind in her right eye and has only 35% vision in her left
She won the award despite competing against players with full vision and using a regular soccer ball that offers her no assistance.
A Sydney ophthalmologist taught her to use echolocation and flight path to detect other players and the ball in order to save goals, The Canberra Times reported.
‘Flight path is hearing the ball through the air, it is kind of like soundwaves pretty much, but hearing the motion and the path the ball takes in the air,’ Quinn said.
Echolocation involves the use of soundwaves and echoes to determine where an object is, and is used by animals such as bats.
Quinn (pictured, centre) uses flight path and echolocation to detect the ball and other players
The young soccer star uses ground vibrations to determine where other players are coming from, and taps the ground herself to create a sound map of the pitch.
‘I feel the ground for vibrations so I can tell if players are coming from my left or my right and where the ball is located,’ she said.
‘I tap the ground a few times and I can hear the vibrations that tell me whereabouts the positions of the players are through echo location.’
The Gold Coast Pirates’ goalie spends half an hour before each game familiarising herself with the field, tapping the ground, counting steps, and measuring the goals.
Isabella told Daily Mail Australia that winning MVP at the Kanga Cup was a dream come true.
‘I truly walked into the competition expecting to walk out with nothing but friendships and experience but throughout the week I got noticed and that only grew my confidence levels bigger!’ she said.
‘The award is hopefully one of many to come, and I would not have been able to do it without the help of my fellow peers.’
She says that she dreams of competing at an elite level, and hopes to represent Australia at the Paralympic Games.
‘Another thing I’d love to do is help launch an international disabled women’s team such as a female version of the Pararoos and share my story to fellow aspiring athletes letting them know anything is possible if you put your mind to it.’
‘I’d also love to become an advocate and help maintain the program as well as participate in it,’ said the inspiring young athlete.
Quinn (pictured, centre) hopes to represent Australia in soccer at the Paralympic Games one day