Today at the Games: Can Clarke crown record-breaking career by stopping brilliant Brazil?

British football pioneer aims to shoot down champions and their exciting winger Jefinho

Brazil are hoping for their third consecutive Paralympic football gold medal as the five-a-side tournament starts at the Riverbank Arena today. However, Dave Clarke, the British goalscoring record holder, could end his career in perfect fashion by stopping them.

The success of the greatest football nation in the world should be no surprise. They won gold at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008, as well as coming out on top at the 2010 World Championship and the 2011 Parapan American Games. Playing with characteristic technique and flair, Brazil's strength comes through the movement of their two wingers, Jefferson "Jefinho" Goncalves and Ricardo Alves. Jefinho is arguably the best in the world at this level, the star of the Beijing Games at just 18.

The game is for visually impaired footballers. All four outfield players must wear blindfolds to ensure there can be no sight advantage, although the goalkeeper can be fully or partially sighted and can help to direct his team-mates. There is a sound system within the ball so players can follow it, and the crowd are forbidden to make noises so as not to distract them. There are walls along the two sides of the pitch and no throw-ins.

Clarke, the captain of Team GB's five-a-side team, is delighted by the introduction of football to the Paralympic Games. At his first Games, in Atlanta 16 years ago, he was playing goalball, a three-a-side game, but he has always been a keen footballer and is eager to have the chance to play it and to challenge Brazil.

"I love goalball, it's a great sport to play," Clarke said. "Football has always been my passion. I got the opportunity to go for a trial in 1996, and I thought, 'This is the sport I love, this is the sport I'm best at and there is the opportunity here to build something'."

Clarke has a remarkable record at international level. He first represented his country in the 1987 European Championship in Milton Keynes and now, 25 years on, can boast a return of more than 100 international goals. He is the figurehead for the sport in Britain, and will be hoping to end his career on a high.

"I did want to take this fledgling sport forward in whatever way we could, and we've done that," Clarke said, looking back at his career. "I've always worked to help get my sport to a standard where it can be called elite, and to be thought of that way by the public and the media. This is a fantastic coincidence that it all comes together in London."

The chance to finish his career at a London Games is a great thrill for Clarke. "The whole spirit and the buzz of this place inspires you," he said of the Olympic Park. "I'm not the best at getting up every morning for work, but at the moment I'm just jumping out of bed because this is incredible."

How better to end a career than at a home Games? "We know it's a two-way thing here," he said. "One is performance, one is inspiration. I'm at the end of my career now, and this is an opportunity to show that our sport is an elite sport, and to showcase it to other blind kids who will say, 'I want to go and do that'."

Today's Brit watch

Stephen Miller - club throw

Having been on the podium at every Paralympics since 1996, Great Britain athletics co-captain Stephen Miller will be looking for gold in the F32 club throw, with the final at 10.05. The 32-year-old won silver in Beijing, but is hoping for a repeat of his gold medals in Atlanta, Sydney and Athens.

Hannah Cockcroft - athletics

Nicknamed "Hurricane", the reigning double world champion in the T34 100m will be hoping to beat rival Kristen Messer of the US, with the final at the Olympic Stadium at 20.18. The 20-year-old talent from Halifax also competes in the 200m, and is taking part in her first Paralympic Games.

Sam and Oliver Hynd - swimming

The Hynd brothers from Nottinghamshire go head-to-head in the S8 400m freestyle, with the heats beginning at 09.30, culminating in the final at 17.50. Sam, 21, won gold in the same event in Beijing, while Oliver, 17, may just be looking to spoil the party for his older brother.

Mark Colbourne - cycling

After becoming Great Britain's first medallist at the Games with a silver in the C1-2-3 one-kilometre time trial, the 42-year-old Welshman will be looking to go one better in the C1 individual pursuit. The qualifying begins in the Velodrome at 10.20, with the final scheduled for 15.45.

Matt Skelhon - shooting

Skelhon, aged 27, will compete in the R1 10m air rifle standing event at the Royal Artillery Barracks as a real contender after gold in the mixed air rifle prone in Beijing. From Stilton, Cambridgeshire, Skelhon will begin qualification at 09.00, with the final at 12.30.

He faces stiff competition from a strong pool of Chinese and Korean shooters.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Sport
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
News
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Sport
Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports
footballEXCLUSIVE COLUMN Paul Scholes: It was not a leg-breaking tackle, as the Chelsea manager had claimed
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower