Blind football is an adaptation of football for athletes with a vision impairment that is played with an audible ball. It featured at the Paralympics for the first time at Athens 2004. At every Games since, players have wowed spectators and TV viewers the world over with their speed and exceptional spatial awareness.
The sport is dominated by Brazil, whose players’ impressive ball control has earned them gold at every Paralympic Games so far, but for how long? As blind football gains traction around the world, no doubt another nation will soon step up to beat the men in yellow.
Brief overview of the rules
Blind football teams are made up of four outfield players and one goalkeeper. Matches are divided into two 25-minute halves and played on a pitch measuring 40m x 20m. Boards run down both sidelines to keep the ball within the field of play.
The goalkeeper, who must be sighted or partially sighted, plays a key role as he is able to give cues to his team mates when defending. In attack, the footballers are aided by a guide who stands behind the opposition goal.
Outfield players must be classified as completely blind, which means they have very low visual acuity and/or no light perception. However, to ensure fair competition, all outfield players must wear eyeshades.
In blind football, players rely wholly on their sense of sound, which is why spectators are asked to stay silent during play. When the footballers move towards an opponent, go in for a tackle or are searching for the ball, they say ‘voy’ or a similar word, but when a goal is scored, everyone is encouraged to make as much noise as they like!
IBSA (International Blind Sports Federation) : www.ibsasport.org/sports
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