A platform for visually impaired football players

A platform for visually impaired football players

Apart from football coaching, IBFF academy also provides players with job opportunities.

The players of Indian Blind Football team during one of the recent football tournaments.

The 4th edition of The Indian Blind Football Federation’s (IBFF) football tournament started on April 12 ends today. The 4-day tournament is hosted at The BullRing FeverPitch Football Arena, Yeshwanthpur.

The tournament saw 16 teams with 160 players. A women’s blind football demo, comprising Bengaluru-based players, will also be organised today.

In a conversation with Metrolife, Sunil J Mathew, coach of Indian Blind Football Team, talks about the techniques used and the challenges faced by the academy, players and more.

“Blind football is a 5-a-side game with four players and one goalkeeper. The game is wholly and solely based on concentration. There are little bells inside the footballs which help the players track the path of the balls,” says Sunil.

Five-a-side football is a variation of association football, in which each team has five players (four outfield players and a goalkeeper). Other differences from football include a smaller pitch, smaller goals, a reduced game duration.

Talking about the motive behind IBFF, he says the lack of platforms for visually-challenged people urged them to start the academy.

He adds, “They are all talented, and all they need is a platform and someone to train and encourage them. We are glad to have provided that.” Sunil also expresses his concern over not receiving support from the government, “More opportunities can be created if the government stands by us; it is sad that nothing has been done so far.”

At IBFF, the players are also given work opportunities to discover their other passions; they are allowed to work during the day.

The players

Metrolife also spoke to Nido Dominic, Bengaluru-based player, talks about how he developed an interest toward football and the challenges he faced initially.

The 23-year-old shares that being trained under the right hands got his basic skills right, breaking the fear of getting hurt.

Sandeep Singh, another player from the team, has been playing football since 2014.

Hailing from Delhi, Sandeep says that his interest in football developed after he saw the blind football team in his school.

“I feel happy playing football; it is liberating and boosts my confidence,” he says. Sandeep has been a part of three national level games. He reveals that he has also been injured during his nationals, but that did not stop him.

About IBFF

IBFF (Indian Blind Football Federation) is recognised as the only body to promote and organise football for the visually-challenged across India. Started in 2013, the academy is affiliated to the Paralympic Committee of India and IBSA New Delhi.

IBFF’s blind football academy and vocational skills centre are functioning in Kochi since September 2017.

About the game

Blind Football is a fast-paced 5-a-side football played by visually impaired athletes using a ball with a noise-making device inside. Played on a smaller pitch on an enclosed court, the game was only introduced as a Paralympic event in 2004. The outfield players are visually impaired and wear eyeshades to ensure fairness; however, the goalkeeper may be fully or partially sighted.