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IBSA at 40 – Celebrating four decades as world leader

Date: March 19, 2021

Category: General

The International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) is celebrating 40 years of growing sports for people with visual impairments in 2021.

In the four decades since its birth at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France, in April 1981, IBSA has developed into the world’s leading organisation for the promotion and development of sports for people with visual impairments.

The IBSA at 40 logo which features the number 40 encapsulated in braille

As well as being the International Federation for the Paralympic sports of goalball, blind football and judo, IBSA also oversees six other sports. In addition it plays a crucial role in the development of, and research into, classification, accessibility and advocacy in a number of spheres.

The organisation will be celebrating reaching 40 years, alongside the 75th anniversary of goalball, throughout 2021 with activities that will involve and recognise the hundreds of athletes, officials, members and volunteers that have helped make it what it is.

Female blind footballers are pictured during a tackle

Jannie Hammershoi, President of IBSA, said:

“What has been achieved by countless people working together, tirelessly, towards a common goal in just under half a century is incredible. There are so many people who we need to thank for getting us to where we are today.

“An organisation that started out with the simple aim to represent and advocate for athletes with visual impairments at the Paralympics, has transformed into a global movement that now oversees many of the world’s most well-known Para-sports, encompasses more than 100 members worldwide, and is the place to come for expert advice in many areas.

“Most of all however, we want to recognise the athletes who inspired IBSA into existence and all those who embody our message of excellence and inclusion every time they step onto the deck, track, court or pitch.

“That is what our celebrations all this year will be about – made extra special with the addition of a Paralympic Games and 75 years of goalball. Highlighting all the wonderful, magical and incredible achievements over the years and helping to secure the same, and better, for future generations as we continue our work.”

A female goalball player pumps her fists in front of goal

IBSA has a number of activities planned and will be inviting stakeholders to take part as each is launched.

These include:

  • IBSA Most Influential – Athletes and administrators from across the world of sports for people with visual impairments who have made a big impact will be named to the 2021 IBSA Most Influential. This list will highlight the leading lights of the last 40 years and will then be refreshed annually to celebrate the most current influential people in the blind sports movement. The IBSA Membership will be asked to make nominations.
  • International days – Each of the Paralympic sports – goalball, blind football and judo – will hold the first of their own international days in 2021, linking with other organisations. Goalball’s first international day will also mark the 75-year milestone.
  • World Blind Sports Day – In addition to individual sports, IBSA will launch the first global day dedicated to promoting all sports for people with visual impairments on 24 April.
  • Virtual seminars – A series of online workshops on the work of IBSA, coaching and developing blind sports, classification and introducing the IBSA sports aim to attract new interest to the movement around the world.
  • New website and digital campaign – IBSA will launch a new-look and completely redesigned website to reflect its position as one of the world’s leading Para sports organisations. By the end of 2021 the site will feature a new multimedia coaching platform incorporating a variety of sports. This will make it one of only a few places to find specific, technical information on sports for people with visual impairments online. IBSA’s social media channels will also tell the story of the past 40 years whilst IBSA Goalball’s platforms will reflect the sport’s own history.

More information on each element of the celebrations will be made available as they are ready to launch.

A Swedish judoka celebrates a win with clear relief on her face as she looks towards the ceiling

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