Blind football takes off in Australia
Date: November 11, 2014
Dave Connolly from Social Goal in Australia has updated IBSA on efforts to develop blind football in Victoria. Here's his report:
With the upcoming IBSA Blind Football B1 World Championships in Tokyo, Japan just about upon us, there is a project underway in Oceania that is kicking goals and striving for the 2018 World Championships.
The sport of blind football is very much in its infancy in Australia and, until recently, adults who are blind or vision impaired in Melbourne were not able to play one of the world’s most popular sports; football, or soccer as it is known in Australia. Through a partnership between Blind Sports Victoria (BSV) and Social Goal, a project is underway to change this. The main focus of this project is to develop the Victorian B League, an inclusive blind football league, which will be the first of its kind in Australia.
A number of activities have taken place already, including an awareness-training session to skill up volunteers interested in helping out; a team of players, friends and volunteers taking part in the Melbourne Marathon events to raise awareness of the sport and to raise funds to support the development of the sport; and an eight-week skill development program, with around 20 young adults with a vision impairment learning the skills of blind football for the first time.
Brooke, a first time participant in the program says, ‘Coming along to blind football has been great. Now, when I am out with friends and I tell them I have been playing blind soccer they instantly ask me “how do you play it?” As people know soccer, they are intrigued and want to know more.’
The inaugural season of blind football activities will culminate in participants facilitating a ‘pop-up’ awareness session before an A League game between Melbourne City Football Club and Brisbane Roar on Saturday 7th December, with participants going onto the pitch at half time and playing a game of blind football.
In 2015, the project will focus on developing the inaugural Victorian B League, an inclusive social competition, with people who are sighted and vision impaired participating together, and will include men and women, making for a truly inclusive game for all.
Dave Connolly from Social Goal explains, ‘We are working closely with a number of local partners, including Football Federation Victoria, to develop opportunities for adults who are blind or vision impaired to be able to play football. The Victorian B League will be a unique competition, providing an opportunity for people who are vision impaired and sighted to play sport together on a level playing field. Our ultimate aim is to break down barriers and kick goals for social change.’
And we are thinking big, with the hope of making the IBSA Blind Football World Championships in 2018. The first step will be Dave Connolly from Social Goal and Mikiko Ota from Blind Sports Victoria going to the upcoming tournament in Tokyo. Attending this event will provide a valuable opportunity to gain first-hand knowledge of the game, build networks and relationships within the blind football community while bringing back knowledge and resources to assist participants, coaches, volunteers and officials in developing the game in Melbourne, and ultimately Australia. ‘I can’t wait,’ says Dave Connolly, ‘its going to be an amazing experience.’
Click here to visit the Blind Sports Victoria web site.