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.