What is Blind Football?
Football for the blind, which started out as a playground game for pupils in special schools for the visually impaired, has now become one of the most popular sports for people with a visual impairment worldwide. Blind football became an official IBSA sports in 1996 when the federation decided to take the game on board. Blind football has become one of the biggest sports on the Paralympic Games programme following its debut at Athens 2004.
Who can play?
In order to play internationally players must be classified as B1 – completely blind.
All outfield players must wear eye patching and eye shades to ensure a level playing field as some players may have a little light or shadow perception.
Vision impairment arises for a variety of reasons - genetics, prenatal developmental issues, or from illness or trauma. Vision impairment occurs when there is damage to one or more of the components of the vision system, which can include:
- impairment of the eye structure/receptors
- impairment of the optic nerve/optic pathways
- impairment of the visual cortex
Blind Football Rules
Outfield players must be B1 (completely blind) although the goalkeepers are sighted. To keep the ball in play there are boards placed along the sides of pitch and provide a reference point for the players.
The goalkeepers must stay in the goal area and have a crucial role in communicating with the outfield players. Two further guides: one positioned on the halfway line and the other behind the goal that the team is attacking support with communication.
During play, spectators must remain silent in order to allow the players to hear the ball clearly and the playing area will often be uncovered to allow for optimum acoustics.
Some of the adaptations
- The ball is audible and size 3.
- The game is played on a solid surface.
- There are five players in each team.
- A match consists of two halves of 20 minutes.
- The measurements of the playing area are 38-42 metres in length and 18-22 metres in width.
- The side boards help avoid continuous throw-ins, which would slow the game,
- Goalkeepers are sighted but must stay within a small restricted area.
- Players must shout ‘voy’ when going in for a tackle.
- Teams can only commit five fouls per half, then an 8m penalty is awarded for each one thereafter.
The determination of visual class will be based upon the eye with better visual acuity, whilst wearing best optical correction using spectacles or contact lenses, and/or visual fields which include central and peripheral zones. Currently the classification structure is not yet sport specific. IBSA has funded several research projects to develop sport specific classification in the near future.
The current divisioning is:
- B1: Visual acuity lower than LogMAR 2.6.
The International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) is the international federation governing the sports of Blind Football and Partially Sighted Football, dedicated to empowering persons with vision impairments to play sports and have an active lifestyle. IBSA is committed to governing and developing the sport of Football in line with their respective mission and objectives and collaborate with Para Football, and partner international federations, in facilitating the growth of football for persons with disabilities.
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