First blind football league in Australia
Date: December 24, 2015
The first ever blind football leagues in Oceania have just concluded in Victoria, Australia, demonstrating the truly worldwide reach of the sport.
David Connolly, co-founder of Social Goal and blind football project co-ordinator in the region, sends us this report on the success of the inaugural B-League:
A partnership between Football Federation Victoria and Blind Sports and Recreation Victoria
The Victorian B-League took place in Melbourne’s Docklands from September to December 2015. This league was the first adult blind football competition in Victoria, and Australia.
There were two divisions of the Victorian B league. The first was the Vision Impaired League which comprised of four teams, Doncaster Rovers Soccer Club (SC), FC Williamstown, Preston Lions Football Club (FC) and All Stars FC (a Blind Sports and Recreation Victoria team). These teams included B1, B2 and B3 players, with sighted volunteers also taking part during the season.
The other was the B1 Championship, which was played to IBSA (International Blind Sports Federation) rules, with all players wearing an eye mask. This competition was open to people who are blind or vision impaired, and sighted people.
This first season was a fantastic success, with those participating showing great sportsmanship and willingness to learn the game and have fun.
On Sunday 6 December 2015 the finals of the Victorian B-League took place. The first game of the day was the third place play off, which was taken out by Doncaster Rovers SC, defeating All Stars FC 6-2.
Next up was the final of the Vision Impaired League between FC Williamstown and Preston Lions FC. These two teams played some great football during the season with each game a classic, highly competitive and evenly matched contest. The grand final took it up a notch with both sides eager to lift the inaugural trophy. FC Williamstown came out winners 3-1 on the day.
Caption: FC Williamstown players and staff celebrate with cup and medals.
‘Both teams displayed the essence of football, playing with heart, passion and for each other…magic.’ said FC Williamstown Coach and Social Goal Co-founder Tom Bevan.
‘It was a relief and joy when the final whistle blew.’ said Tom.
At the completion of the Vision Impaired Final, all players were presented with participation medals by Maurice Gleeson, President of Blind Sports and Recreation Victoria, a reward for their commitment to the competition. Runners up and winners medals were presented by Adam Centafonti from Melbourne City Football Club and Nicholas Tsiaras, Football Federation Victoria Director.
In the lead up to the B1 Championship match a short skill session took place where Nicholas and Adam took part in an awareness session to learn some of the skills of the game. Some silky skills were on display and both were keen to get a bit of game time so they jumped on for a few minutes at the start of the B1 Championship Final.
The final event of the day, the B1 Championship Final, was a culmination of over 3 months of training and games in the B1 format, which was new and challenging for all players. The game showcased plenty of individual skill and great team work. Social Goal took out the final 1-0 against Blind Sports and Recreation Victoria.
In closing, a special mention must go to our fantastic team of volunteers who have helped out with a variety of roles during the competition: from initially building the court’s barriers and setting them up each week to jumping on a team as a player or as an attacking guide. We would also like to thank Rich Fairbrother, a Football Federation Victoria accredited referee, who officiated both divisions.
We look forward to continuing to work with Football Federation Victoria, Blind Sports and Recreation Victoria and Blind Sports Australia to grow the game in Victoria, and Australia.
Set this time of the year in your calendar for blind football in Victoria.
The project team would like to thank the following partners/supporters of the Victorian B- League: City of Melbourne; YMCA @ The Hub; Preston Lions Football Club; FC Williamstown; Doncaster Rover Soccer Club; Blind Sports and Recreation Victoria; Football Federation Victoria; Melbourne City Football Club; Asian Cup Local Organising Committee; World Sports Group; South Melbourne Football Club; Vichealth; Joma.