Blind billiards in Arenys de Mar

A sense of humor helps to overcome difficulties.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
18 September 2023 Monday 10:31
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Blind billiards in Arenys de Mar

A sense of humor helps to overcome difficulties. This is the maxim that governs the lives of Francisco Gómez Patricio, Siscu, 69 years old, with a visual disability of 90%, and Francisco Fernández Pérez, Quico, 66 years old, and with a blindness of 75%. Despite the difficulties, both are protagonists of a story of improvement by exchanging the white cane for a pool cue.

Affiliated with ONCE in Arenys de Mar, they want above all to prevent “blind retirees, after selling coupons, from locking themselves in a bubble and becoming depressed.” His example encourages younger blind people to overcome obstacles. “We tell them that if we, being retired, can even play pool, they who are younger can do much more.”

Patricio, as he is also known in billiards championships, worked as an artisan book binder in Santa Coloma de Gramenet until he suffered a serious visual stroke at the age of 32. Married with two daughters, “the world came crashing down on me” and it was thanks to the sale of coupons that “I survived and was able to support my family” by taking advantage of the ONCE opportunities. Quico, with two children and six grandchildren, became blind at the age of 30 due to a work accident in the Arenys shipyards. He had plastic fiber fall into his eye and due to “several medical negligence” he ended up with 25% vision in both eyes. Now, he transmits his fighting spirit to all the blind people who “consider themselves useless” and especially those who have already retired, who “begin to think that they are annoying things.”

Siscu was “very ashamed” of selling coupons, but it was through ONCE that he learned about activities for the blind. “I played as a goalkeeper with balls with cans and bells” and it was through sport that “I knew that life gave me another opportunity” that “I knew how to take advantage of.”

The most adventurous of the two champions is Quico, who has played soccer since he was young, even after losing his vision. They both met while sharing an area for selling coupons in Arenys de Mar. “But we decided not to compete and help each other,” and in this way they managed to break sales records in their area.

For both of them, playing pool is more than just a sport. “We want to show that with help and willpower all misfortunes can be overcome.” Watching them evolve on the mat performing caroms is also a motivating exercise.

Both play at the Ateneu Arenyenc, a historic social center, where the billiards section welcomed them “as one of their own.” They believe that governments should “strengthen these social entities” where disabled people find refuge.

But in the official competition there are no friends. Siscu is in the second category and Quico in the third. The two use the strategy of a sense of humor to undermine the morale of their opponents. “So if a blind man beats you, how are you going to explain it?” , they say to the opponent.

“There are people who, when we have beaten them, angrily throw the cue on the ground,” but the majority “do not get angry, but instead encourage us to continue.” Others doubt his visual impairment. “Are you really blind?” To these, Patricio patiently explains that “I see the balls distorted.” Quico, for his part, informs them that he does not have visual clarity and that precision in shooting is very complex, so many of the shots are made by “intuition.”