Get involved with blind football

How to get involved with blind football

Blind football is five-a-side football - and, more specifically, it is an adapted version of futsal. Blind football is also sometimes known as B1 football or football five-a-side.

Outfield players must be registered as B1 (completely blind) although the goalkeepers can be either sighted or partially sighted. To facilitate the running of the game, there is boarding placed along the length of pitch to keep the ball in play and provide a reference point for the players when they are on the pitch.

The goalkeepers are restricted to a small area in front of the goal and have a crucial role in communicating with the outfield players alongside two further guides: one positioned on the halfway line and the other behind the goal that the team is attacking.

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. The ball is also adapted with panels stitched in that have metal shards that create a noise as it rolls across the playing surface for the players to be able to hear and locate. The game has another unique feature in that 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.

Classification and Eligibility
In order to play internationally players must be classified as B1 – completely blind.

Domestically, the National Blind League has introduced a classification that allows players on the lower end of the B2 category to be classified as B1b and participate in the league. This is for athletes whose sight loss stops them from playing competitively in partially-sighted football but are not eligible for international blind football.

For more information about classification, click here.

Rule adaptions

The laws of the game are based on FIFA Futsal laws with a number of key adaptations:

• The game is played on a solid surface
• There are five players in each team, maximum squad size of ten
• A match consists of two halves of 20 minutes
• The measurements of the playing area are 42 metres (maximum)/ 38 metres (minimum) in length and 22 metres (maximum)/18 metres (minimum) width
• The sidelines (touchlines) of the playing surface are formed by boarding whose purpose is to act as an acoustic board which allows the players to listen out for echoes to help determine their own location and that of their team-mates and opponents. The boards also allow for a more flowing rhythm of play by avoiding 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 permitted to commit five fouls per half then an 8m penalty is awarded for each one thereafter 

For further information, download the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) futsal rulebook 2017-2021

Grassroots player pathway & competition structures

The National Blind Football League has been in existence, in various guises, for a number of years and provides a competitive exit route for the adult players within the training hubs.

Currently there are three teams playing in the league with fixtures taking place on a monthly basis between October and March with an annual cup competition at the end of the season.

All fixtures are played at the Royal National College for the Blind in Hereford and are open for public viewing. Players from the training hubs are allocated to a league team at the start of the season, alongside England players. All abilities are catered for and new players welcome.

For more information about opportunities in your local area, please contact your local County FA