BLIND AND C EREBR AL PAL S Y F OO T BALL
Five-a-side: Blind football In blind f o o t b all, te am s of f i ve pla yer s c omp e te agains t one ano t her. T he f our out f ield player s are either blind or par tial ly sighted. T hey all wear blindf olds in or der to ensure that those who retain some me asur e of sight do not ha ve an unf air advantage. T here is one exc eption to this r ule, however : the goalkeeper s are sighted, although they mus t remain within their r e sp e c ti ve ar e as at all time s. Blind ath le te s r el y on their he ar ing and sense of dir e c t ion, s o t he b all make s a nois e to help player s loc ate it by sound. Spec tator s ar e enjoine d to ke ep quie t s o as not to c ompromise the game. T he ball, whic h re semble s that used in f ut sal, is smaller and muc h hea v ier than a traditional f ootball At home Dustin Hodgson (r.) led Canada on to the pitch in Toronto.
to ensur e t ha t it do e s not s t r a y to o f ar f r om the pla yer s and c annot bounc e too high. T he c oac he s and as sis tant s on the
the difficulties of the condition since birth but nevertheless played the game since early childhood. Players who were on course to become professionals before an accident curtailed their careers share the same conviction, as do those who have encountered many hindrances, with tasks that were once straightforward, such as maintaining balance, now hugely problematic. Cerebral palsy football gives them the chance
sideline s ac t as guide s, direc ting the play er s and initiating at tacks. T he pitch is sur r ounde d by r eb ound b o ar ds, w hic h ar e ac tively used in the game. Matc he s c on sis t of t wo halve s of 25 minute s. Bra z il t he t eam t o bea t South A mer ic a’s his tor y of blind f ootball e x tends as f ar b ac k as 1980, w hen t he f ir s t tour nament was held in Br azil. T he
”Football is everything for me – nothing else matters.” Dustin Hodgson, captain of Canada’s cerebral palsy national team.
Eur o p e an o r igin s o f t h e g am e c an b e f ound in Spain, whic h held the f ir s t blind f ootball national c hampionship s in 1986. T he spor t is now played in over 40 c oun tr ie s around the globe. C o n t in e n t al c h amp i o n s hip s h a v e b e e n held ever y other year f rom 1997 onwards, w hile t he Blind F o ot b all Wor ld C up has
Nathan Denette / The Canadian Press
taken plac e ever y f our year s sinc e 1998. to live out their dream of following in the footsteps of their idols Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Ronaldinho. It is for that reason that Barito da Costa has just one wish: greater public awareness of the sport and an accompanying increase in matches on the international stage. However, CP football is not scheduled to be an event at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. Given that financial support increases with the status of being a Paralympic sport, there are difficult times ahead for teams everywhere. But if the players have learned one thing, it is that giving up is definitely not an option. Å
Blind f ootball made it s debut at the Ath ens Paraly mpic s in 20 0 4, with teams f rom A r gentina, Br azil, Fr anc e, Gr e e c e, S outh Kor e a, Rus sia and Sp ain ac ting as tr ail blazer s f or the sp or t . T he Br azilians tr i umphe d agains t their A r gent inian c oun ter par t s in the f inal. Having retained their t it le a t the Beijing Par al y mpic s in 20 08 and the L ondon Paraly mpic s in 2012, Bra zil w ill doubtle s s b e the team to b eat in Rio in 2016. bra
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