Silvio Velo: Lesser-known Facts about the Football 5-a-side Legend

Silvio Velo: Lesser-known Facts about the Football 5-a-side Legend

Silvio Velo was born without sight, but with a great vision: to become a legend. Learn more about him here.

“When there’s a will, there are a thousand ways.” This is the motto Silvio Velo lives by every day. He is the eternal captain of the Argentina Football 5-a-side team, better known as “Los Murciélagos”, and a legend of this Para sport played worldwide by Para athletes with a visual impairment. His track record includes all the titles and honors possible in Football 5-a-side, except for one: the gold medal in the Paralympic Games.

His story began on May 29, 1971 in San Pedro, a port city on the Paraná river, located 170 kilometers away from the capital city, Buenos Aires. His first childhood memories are closely linked to football. Silvio, his brothers and neighborhood friends shared a ball to have fun. It was the only toy they had because it was easy to share.


Silvio Velo en un entrenamiento de la selección argentina de fútbol 5


They would play on improvised pitches anywhere. A road or a sand field was their field; backpacks or bottles would mark the goals. He was the only blind child in his hometown, but the one putting in the most passion in every match. At that time, all he wanted to do was play. He did not care whether he was good or not.

When Silvio Velo turned ten, his parents took him to an organization specialized in children with visual impairments located in the Argentinian capital. It became his home for a whole decade.

The school had a football team. Its teachers had managed to create audible balls by means of a creative solution: sticking metal caps onto their surface. Every time the balls bounced, the caps would make a loud noise and the students were able to locate them as a result. Silvio’s life changed forever.

He was used to playing with his friends without hearing the ball. Five years later, several dozens of journalists started visiting the Institute to report on a short, fast and incredibly skillful teenager. He was quickly dubbed the “Maradona of Football 5-a-side”.


Silvio Velo controla el balón frente a un rival colombiano


In 1991, he wore the Argentinian shirt for the first time to represent his country in the national team, he also wore the Captain armband. In the mid-nineties, the international rules for this Para sport started being defined: five players per team (a fully sighted goalkeeper and the remaining players wearing blindfolds to compensate for the different levels of visual impairment), a special ball full of small bells to facilitate dribbling, etc.

In 1998, the first World Blind Football Cup was held in Brazil, featuring teams from eight countries, including the Argentinian squad captained by Silvio Velo. Four years later, they won their first World Cup. That is when they started being called Los Murciélagos. They repeated the feat in the following World Cup.

“I’d like to keep getting across the idea that nothing in life is impossible.” Silvio has proved that he doesn't need to use his eyes to see everything clearly. If you want to see this world legend, get ready! The Parapan American Games tickets will go on sale soon.

Silvio Velo en un partido frente a México