Asian Paralympic Committee Webinar - Introduction to Para Football

  • 02 February 2021

Written by Charlie Tohme

APC webinar series presents Para Football as a new worldwide body and foundation

On January 20th, 2021, the Asian Paralympic Committee hosted a webinar to introduce Para Football as a new worldwide body and foundation. It was established to develop, raise awareness and bring together football opportunities for persons with disabilities.

More than fifty participants of National Paralympic Committees (NPCs) from all over asia attended the webinar, curious about this rising foundation.

It was delivered by Sam Turner, co-founder of Para Football, and Freddy Farhat, the Business Development Manager at Para Football.

Para Football is a non-profit organization, inaugurated on December 3rd, 2020, and registered in the Netherlands. The term "Para" is of Greek origin, meaning "alongside" or "beside." In the context of Para Football, it means any various form of Football runs in parallel with mainstream Football. 

 

"We're looking at something wider than just the Paralympic sports, where all types of football run alongside one another to provide opportunities for persons with disabilities," said Turner. 

 

Para Football focuses on bringing together autonomous and independent International Federations of Football for persons with disabilities and supporting national football associations and federations to be more inclusive and develop opportunities. 

 

As for inclusion, Para Football is looking to empower individuals with disabilities who should have the ability to choose how they want to be involved in the game of Football. 

 

They can do so by choosing which area of Football fits them most: 

  • Mainstream Football: regular rules- open to all. 
    If a player is able to or wants to, we want to support them by including people into mainstream football.
  • Modified Football: modified rules- open to all.
    These alternative formats of football like walking football allow modified rules to support players with or without disabilities to play together.
  • Pan-Disability Football: modified rules- open for players with a variety of disabilities
    Players with different types of impairments come together to play football.
  • Impairment Specific Adapted Football: modified rules- for specific impairment group
    Such as Blind Football, CP Football, Amputee Football.

 

Para Football insists on including every type of Football out there, "part of our work is to find out if there are more so we can include them, or to find out whether there is a gap that needs to be filled in the football community," says Turner. 

 

To promote the foundation's goal and develop it further, Para Football is working alongside recognized federations such as IFCPF, Virtus, FIPFA, IFSS, etc. through our Partner International Federations Group

 

"This is very much a partnership approach where we look at areas of interests in common, so we can collaborate and push each other forward," says the co-founder. 

 

The foundation also insists on inclusive communication to ensure that persons with disabilities are aware of the opportunities available to them to be a part of Football.

 

"Our Player Ambassadors help us in this area; Alex Sánchez, Eunate Arraiza, and Kudakwashe Mapira," says Turner, "for instance, Alex was a football player in La Liga, born without a right hand. He is a fantastic example for others who are looking for inspiration in Para Football."

 

While effective communication is responsible for spreading awareness and positive messages about Para Football, good governance, capacity building, and business development will help our partners be well-led, sustainable, and inclusive of persons with disabilities and invest in the Para Football family.

 

"We can do so either by sharing resources or by exchanging expertise to become one big collective voice for the Para Football community," says Farhat. 

 

Para Football also works on football development by bringing together key stakeholders and guiding partner organizations to create and develop sustainable participation opportunities and pathways for players to interact with the game of Football in the way they choose.

 

"We're identifying good people from all world regions who understand the language, the culture, and the football foundations in each region. This will help us provide more tailored support for the organisations we work with," says Turner. 

 

When talking about classification, the International Paralympic Committee is responsible for developing, maintaining, and monitoring classification in Para sport and the compliance to the IPC Athlete Classification Code of its signatories.

 

"We aim to work together, where everyone is compliant with the rules of the classification of the IPC, " says the co-founder. 

 

On the medical side, partners at Para Football are working together to align our expertise and opportunities to advance the field of medical and sports science within Para Football. 

 

"We want to do that while also promoting clean sport," says Turner, "we aim to harmonize anti-doping policies across Para Football by providing a mechanism to assist stakeholders with their implementation of the WADA Anti-Doping Code." 

 

The Para Football family hopes to make a change in the football community; it recognizes that a wide variety of stakeholders are interested in leading, creating, and providing inclusive football opportunities. "With working together, we can create a united picture and a solid network with Asia leading the way for other regions," says Turner. 

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