"Blind or deaf, kids remain kids! And kids love to play football"

Blind football started in April 2018, thanks to a partnership with Krousar Thmey (learn more about the launch). There are around 20 players in the team, and half of them are girls! 

The trainings take place twice a week, at the football pitch that was built in the school to improve training conditions. In case you missed it, all the information you need to know about the field are in this article.

 It is high time we explain to you the basic rules and stakes of blind soccer!

Rules

The rules are directly inspired by 5-a-side football, or futsal. Blind football is governed by the International Blind Sports Association (ISBA) and is played with modified FIFA rules, to take into account the specificities of the players:

2 teams of 5 players play against each other for two periods of 20 minutes. The team which scored the most at the end wins. 

– A team is composed of: 4 visually impaired players; 1 goalkeeper (fully or partially sighted) that organizes the defense; 1 trainer on the sidelines to supervise; and 1 guide behind the opponent’s goal to help to locate it and provide instructions.

– The size of the field is 40 x 20 meters, and the cages are 3 x 2 meters big. The sides of the field are protected by a foam fence (1,30 meter high) to maintain continuity of play. 

– A player commits a foul when their behavior can affect the physical integrity of another player (holds or shakes an opponent up, touches voluntarily the ball with his/her hand…). In this case, the ball is given back to the other team. 

– When coming towards the ball carrier, the defender must shout VOY (which means “I’m coming” in Spanish) to signal its presence.

– The offside rule is not applied

– Every player (except for the goalkeeper) is blindfolded, to ensure fair competition.

– The ball is adapted: there are bells inside to allow players to locate it by sound.

Classification

The players are classified into 2 distinct categories and championships, depending on their visual acuity:

B1 – blind: totally or almost blind players that have a really low perception of light. 
B2/B3 – partially sighted: at the international level, the visual acuity of a player must not exceed 1/10 or exceed 20° of the visual field. At the national level, there is a tolerance of 2/10. 

Competitions

World Championship took place for the first time in 1998, and the Brazilian team won the cup. Since then, blind football kept growing and became a Paralympic Sport in 2004. IBSA developed a lot of international competitions, besides national championships. For example:
– IBSA Blind Football World Championships (B1)
– IBSA Blind Football World Championships (B2/B3)
– ISBA World Games
– IBSA Blind Football Asian Championships
– Blind Football at the Asian Para Games
– IBSA Blind Football European Championships
– IBSA Blind Football American Championships
– IBSA Blind Football African Championships

A developing sport

Blind football was born in South America in the ’80s and made its first appearance as a Paralympic Sport in Athens in 2004. Still poorly publicized, blind football can however benefit from the universal popularity of “traditional” football worldwide and catch the attention of a wider audience.

Unsurprisingly, the style of play is different than soccer. There are a lot more dribbling and close control than in a sighted game, which makes it more dynamic to watch. Communication is very important among the players, and the atmosphere is very different too (silence is required during a game to enable the players to communicate and hear the ball). Attending or watching a blind football game can make you see sports differently, as parasport attracts more and more people!

Benefits

First, the benefits of playing blind football are physical. People with visual impairment tend to move less, as going out or doing an activity can be challenging or impossible. Being involved in a blind football team provides them a way to improve their shape, as it requires a lot of cardio and strength in the legs to be able to stop or change direction quickly. It also helps them to be more conscious of their own body and orientation in space. It improves the whole cardio-vascular system, making them less vulnerable to diseases. 

But the effects are even more impressive on the psychological side. As you may now, disability can lead to isolation, especially in developing countries such as Cambodia. Playing blind football creates a feeling of pride, a sense of belonging to a group, a sense of solidarity and team spirit. Individually, it increases self-confidence and improves social and communication skills, as they have to interact and cooperate on the field to succeed. 

Playing sports make people with disabilities do things they would not do otherwise!

Blind football has a bright future and we are proud to allow young motivated Khmer students to play it. We strongly believe that if they keep working hard as they currently do, great things will happen. Maybe they will become the first Cambodian team to win the World Cup, who knows?

“I go twice a week to Krousar Thmey school for deaf and blind children, and they are doing an amazing job with them. My role is only to reveal their talent and motivation, and I am so proud of my team! We are on the our way to represent Cambodia at the Paralympic Games one day. We are training hard, with passion and intensity. Making the team members feel more confident and proud of themselves everyday. Each training builds confidence, smile and hope. Blind or deaf, kids stay kids, enjoying the moment is our priority. When you mix all of this, it is already a big win for us! The trophy will only be a plus 🏆”

The coach's WORD

Metrisak

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