An Introduction… To Blind and Partially Sighted Football

By Greg Potts
Want to get into blind or partially sighted football but don’t know where to start? In this introductory series we compile a quick list of the rules and regulations you’ll need to know to get playing as soon as possible.
Team GB's blind football team defend an Iran free kick at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Team GB’s blind football team defend an Iran free kick at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Photo: Getty Images

Where can I start playing in London?

London Metro Futsal Club, 7 Jan 2017, SCORE Centre, Oliver Road, Leyton

London & South East Blind Centre of Excellence (B1 classification only), train weekly and play in the FA National Blind League

AFC Wimbledon Pan Disability Football sessions, Sundays, Earlsfield

Classifications
Blind Football players are classified as B1 – totally or almost totally blind (Played in the Paralympics).
Partially sighted players can be classified as B2, B3, B4 or B5.These two forms of the sport differ slightly from each other but we will cover both here! 

The Teams

Both blind and partially sighted football is 5-a-side with four outfield players and a goalkeeper.

In partially sighted matches, all five players on the team have a visual impairment whereas in blind football the goalkeepers are sighted but cannot leave their areas. They can also only direct the players on their team when the ball is in their defensive third. A guide behind the goal each team is attacking can then direct players when the ball is in the attacking third.

The Pitch

Partially sighted football is played on indoor futsal pitches and throw-ins are taken as in FIFA matches.

Blind football is slightly different, 1.2 metre high walls run along the sides of the pitch to allow the game to flow.

There are also two penalty spots, with the one further out being used when a team commits four fouls during a game.

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A blind football pitch. Photo: http://www.rio2016.com

The Ball

Partially sighted football uses a size 4 ball that is designed to bounce less than a normal ball.

In blind football, ball bearings are placed inside the football so that a rattle is made when the ball moves and players know where it is.

Match Timings

Matches are 25 minutes each half. If it’s a draw at full-time in a knock-out game then the game goes straight to a penalty shootout.

Similar to a basketball shot clock, once the goalkeeper has released the ball, the team has 15 seconds to cross the halfway line with it otherwise they lose possession. The keeper cannot throw the ball past the halfway line.

Leagues

The National Blind Football League is run by the FA, while the Partially Sighted Football League is organised by British Blind Sport.

Highlights of the first day of 5-a-side football at the Rio 2016 Paralympics. Credit: Paralympic Games.

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