Onur keeps every second ball: Almost blind and still a goalkeeper


Stuttgart – Onur Kinavli (38) is not allowed to get a driver’s license and never drive a car himself. He’s not allowed to sit in the emergency exit on airplanes, and sometimes he doesn’t recognize his friends on the street. The merchant is almost blind – and still a goalkeeper. And there he stops every second ball!

When Onur started school, his parents realized something was wrong. “The doctor confirmed that I had retinoschisis, which is a genetically determined retinal detachment,” explains Kinavli (see below). He underwent three surgeries and completely lost his left sight. “I can only see in the right eye, and then only 15 percent,” he says.

As a goalkeeper for Betonspor 2004 eV Onur dives for the balls

Photo: Thomas Heckmann

After the surgeries, he had to give up his soccer hobby, was no longer allowed to play football and was given a severely disabled pass. A hit to his scarred eye would have been far too dangerous. “I then practiced in secret,” says Kinavli. And fought so bravely for a place on his team.

Now he is the goalkeeper for Esslingen-based Betonspor 2004 eV. Onur: “We play in the leisure league of the Württemberg Football Association, have already won two championships.” There was only one low point when Onur had depression after his divorce in 2017. He gained weight, weighed 135 kilos. The support of his team helped him. He lost 50 kilos in three years and is now diving for the balls again with his 85 kilos.

Penalties are his specialty.  Onur:

Penalties are his specialty. Onur: “I react by reflex, just jump”

Photo: Thomas Heckmann

How is that possible despite the massive visual impairment? “That’s what my doctors are asking, too,” says Onur. “I just react out of reflex, just jump. That’s intuition now. We have around 60 games a year. My specialty is saving penalties! And then I manage at least every second ball.”

In addition, he trains the C2 boys at TV Nellingen. “I always have an assistant coach with me to help me with the names. I don’t recognize their faces.” In the meantime, he has met another woman and is doing further training as an e-commerce clerk at Nikolauspflege, a foundation for the visually impaired. Onur: “My attitude towards life is: Just stay positive!”

Tiny holes in the retina

Retinoschisis (ancient Greek: splitting) is called the splitting of the retina. The retina lies behind the eyeball. As a result of the split, the retina can develop holes and become detached. The more holes in the retina, the less information is sent to the brain. The disease occurs in old age or – rather rarely – is inherited.

The genetic version can only occur in male patients. Even in children, like Onur Kinavli, it causes visual impairments and can even lead to blindness.

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