Five-a-side football is one of the three sports on the Paralympic program exclusively for athletes with a visual impairment, and is one of the most popular overall. There is, however, much more to this particular version of the “Beautiful Game”.
1. Five-a-side football is relatively new to the Paralympic Games, having made its debut in Athens in 2004. Six countries took part in the inaugural tournament: Argentina, Brazil, France, Greece, South Korea and South Korea. ‘Spain.
2. Brazil has been the dominant force in sport at the Paralympic Games, winning gold in every edition. The first Paralympic final against Argentina in 2004 was played on penalties. Brazil won 3-2.
3. Despite Brazilian domination, Spain is considered to be the sports pioneer who began playing a version of the game in schools for the visually impaired in the 1920s.
4. Parasport did not have a governing body or set of rules until 1996 when it was taken under the wing of the International Federation for Blind Sports (IBSA). The following year, the first championships of the Americas and Europe took place, naturally Spain and Brazil won the respective titles!
5. The game takes place according to rules of 5 with some modifications. For example, there is no offside rule, but players can enter the penalty area with the ball and shoot. The goalkeeper also has a smaller rectangular area in which to stay inside.
6. Over the following decades, fueled by the exposure gained through the Paralympic Games, 5-a-side football became a truly global sport. The Asian Championships were held in 2005 and the first African Championships in 2015. Today, many national and international competitions are organized each year.
© Japan Football Association for the Blind
7. There must be complete silence during games to allow players to hear the ball (which has a bell inside), other players, and guide instructions. This means that fans, coaches and teammates are not allowed to cheer or make sounds… until a goal is scored!
8. Classification ensures that all para-athletes can compete on an equal footing. Football 5 players must be eligible for only one class: B1. This means that they have severe levels of visual impairment such as poor visual acuity and / or no light perception. Athletes must also wear sunglasses during matches, but the goalkeeper, who cannot leave the zone, may be sighted or visually impaired.
9. The ball should ring or click and players should say “voy” when in possession of the ball to alert other players of their position. A guide, who often stands behind the opposing goal, can also give instructions. This can be in word form or by using a tool to hit the goal posts during penalties. The boundaries of the 40m x 20m pitch are demarcated by solid barriers called “kick-boards”.
ten. Until recently, Football 5 has mainly focused on men’s football. However, in recent years, huge strides have been made in bringing more women into the sport. The first women’s world championships will be held in Enugu, Nigeria, in November 2021.
© Bina Foundation