Vrije Universiteit of Brussel supporting Para Football

  • 30 August 2021

The Vrije Universiteit of Brussel joins Para Football as an academic partner to support the development of football for persons with disabilities at all levels of the game.

Vrije Universiteit Brussel is an internationally oriented university in Brussels, the heart of Europe. Through tailor-made high-quality research and education, VUB wants to contribute in an active and committed way to a better society for tomorrow.

For more than 180 years VUB has helped build a better society as an innovative, free inquiring and critical thinking university. VUB is dedicated to providing opportunities for its students and creating research partnerships in line with their respective mission and objectives, and will collaborate with Para Football in facilitating the growth of football for persons with disabilities.


From VUB's Prof. Dr. Evert Zinzen (Dean), Prof. Dr. Veerle De Bosscher (Sport Policy & Management) and Jos Verschueren (Sport Business):

“The VUB strives to be an inclusive University and supports all initiatives to accomplish that. The faculty of Physical Education and Physiotherapy has built a tradition in Para Sport Policy research and the development of Paralympic athletes’ pathways. While Para-sport is growing, research in the area still remains scarce (see appendix) and in many countries investments in Paralympic Sports is still underestimated. As such collaborations like this one will initiate more awareness and will provide, in the long run, mutual reinforcements. We are looking forward to share insights, to guide para athletes to top performances or to open up opportunities for sport for all initiatives. Football, being the number one sport in Belgium, will provide the ideal context to make our Faculty an inclusive one!”


Para Football is a new worldwide foundation working with key stakeholders to develop inclusive opportunities in football for persons with disabilities, and supporting National Football Associations to establish Para Football programmes. Bringing together the International Federations governing the various types of football, Para Football aims to ensure ‘all’ are part of football and persons with disabilities are empowered to choose the way they wish to play and interact with the sport of football. It is our mission to ‘Ensure opportunity for persons with disabilities to participate on an equal basis with others in football’.


Para Football Business Development Manager, Freddy Farhat said:

“At Para Football, we came to notice that there is very little research in the area of Para sports and especially football. As a VUB alumnus there is no better university to partner with and conduct research that will help the development of both students and para footballers, along with ensuring an inclusive future for para football across Belgium and the world. VUB's commitment to a better tomorrow gives me pride and honour in being part of the alumnus network.”


Working together, our two organisations will develop further research in order to ensure that football is a place where everyone feels included, they matter and that they can access the game on an equal basis with others in football.


Para Football Co-founder, Sam Turner said:

"Para Football is more than just a worldwide foundation, we are a network of forward thinking and collaborative minded organisations who are driving the real change in football to make it more inclusive and accessible to persons with disabilities. Partnerships such as this bring onboard expert partners like VUB and an influx of fresh minds to develop the game for the future. VUB host the International Football Business Institute and are leaders in their field, so we are delighted to work together."



Recent Research publications on Para Sport

  1. Patatas, J., De Rycke, J., Kons R.L., De Bosscher, V. (2021) It's a Long Way to the Top: Determinants of Developmental Pathways in Paralympic Sport. Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly, https://doi.org/10.1123/apaq.2020-0147
  2. Patatas, J., De Bosscher, V, Derom, I., Winckler, C. (2020). Stakeholders perceptions of athletic career pathways in paralmpic sport: from participation to excellence. Sport in Society, published online
  3. Patatas, J. M., De Bosscher, V, Derom, I., & De Rycke, J. (2020). Managing parasport: An investigation of sport policy factors and stakeholders influencing para-athletes’ career pathways. Sport Management Review, 23, 937–951; doi:
  4. Martins Patatas, J., De Bosscher, V, De Cocq, S., Jacobs, S. D. & Legg, D. (2019). Towards a System Theoretical Understanding of the Parasport Context. Special issue, The Uniqueness of the Sport Context, Journal of Global Sport Management, 6, Issue 1: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/24704067.2019.1604078 -87-110 
  5. Patatas, J., De Bosscher, V, Legg, D. (2018) Understanding parasport: an analysis of the differences between able-bodied and parasport from a sport policy perspective. International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, 10 (2), 235-254, doi:10.1080/19406940.2017.1359649. Ranking: 28/44 (Hospitality, Leisure, Sport & Tourism).  

Recent blogposts

  • Enjoying Walking Football together for World Autism Awareness Day
    Enjoying Walking Football together for World Autism Awareness Day
    • 02-04-2023

    On Sunday 2nd April, in honour of "World Autism Awareness Day", the Japan Inclusive Football Federation held an event at Musashino's Mori Sports Plaza, where for players to enjoy walking football together regardless of disabilities or gender!

    Read more
  • Firsts for Frame Football and Inclusive Football
    Firsts for Frame Football and Inclusive Football
    • 02-04-2023

    The first National Frame Football Festival and the first Regional Festival of Inclusive Football took place in the Municipality of Roque Perez, Argentina.

    Read more
  • Amputee football star Oleksy wins FIFA Pusk├ís Award
    Amputee football star Oleksy wins FIFA Puskás Award
    • 28-02-2023

    Read more