How the world celebrated World Blind Sports Day
Date: April 26, 2021
Saturday 24 April marked 40 years since the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) was founded by in Paris, France.
On that day in 1981 at the UNESCO headquarters, 30 countries came together to form a movement dedicated to advancing the profile of sports for people with visual impairments.
Forty years later and IBSA now has more than 100 members in all corners of the globe, and is the International Federation for eight sports.
The achievements of all the athletes, organisations and volunteers who have dedicated themselves to the cause over the years was celebrated in great style on Saturday.
The IBSA member in Chile, Federación Deportiva Nacional para Personas con Discapacidad Visual (FENADDIVI), organised an online session to introduce blind football.
In Portugal, Sporting CP’s club goalball team played an exhibition game against world and Paralympic champions in multiple sports. Later in the day they held an online chat with Brazilian club side SESI.
Portugal also saw activities in blind football as Federação Portuguesa de Desporto para Pessoas com Deficiência (FPDD) worked with the Associação Nacional de desporto para Pessoas com Deficiência Visual (ANDDVIS) to hold a talent camp for the national team.
Japanese children took part in activities that included trying blind football and people around the world shared their activities in sports such as blind cricket and ice hockey.
Athletes also got in on the action. Sweden’s Fatmir Seremeti, a triple Paralympian in goalball, took to Twitter to mark World Blind Sports Day:
“I would like to take the opportunity and send out a huge love to all the beautiful people I’ve ever met during my career in goalball. Without goalball I would be nothing. Maybe not even alive. Miss you all!”
Tokyo 2020 and the International Paralympic Committee joined the celebrations by highlighting some of the sports for people with visual impairments that fans can find at the Paralympics on their social media platforms.
Happy birthday messages were received from the USA, President of the Brazilian Sports Confederation for the Visually Impaired, José Antônio Ferreira Freire, and Federación Española de Deportes para Ciegos President, Ángel Luis Gómez Blázquez.
In her message the United States Association of Blind Athletes’ Chief Executive, Molly Quinn, said:
“On behalf of the United States Association of Blind Athletes, our Board of Directors, staff and membership, I would like to congratulate the International Blind Sports Federation on 40 years of playing a vital role in growing Para sports worldwide. USABA is itself celebrating its 45th anniversary this year and we look forward to partnering with IBSA for years to come in continuing to champion sports opportunities for the blind and visually impaired. Happy birthday IBSA!”
World Blind Sports Day is just the start of the celebrations for IBSA’s 40th birthday in 2021. Seminars on various topics such as coaching, classification and officiating in the IBSA sports will take place and be accessible for anyone with an interest. A coaching platform will also be launched where information about visual impairment sports will be brought together in one place and free to access.
Other activities include a Most Influential List which will recognise all the people who have made a significant impact on the development of blind sports over the last four decades. International days will also be held for blind football and judo, with goalball’s day part of its own 75 year anniversary this year.