IBSA opens up women’s football 5-a-side to B2 and B3 players
Date: January 23, 2020
The International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) has opened-up women’s football 5-a-side to a wider range of players as efforts to attract more female athletes continue.
Currently in the men’s game, governed by IBSA Blind Football, players who are classified as B1 (completely blind) play separately to those who are B2 and B3 (partially sighted).
However with the first women’s World Championships set for 2020, the IBSA Executive Board considered proposals to allow all classes to compete together. It is hoped this will enable the sport to develop in the medium term.
Ulrich Pfisterer, Chairperson of the IBSA Blind Football Committee, said: “We are working hard to attract more female players with visual impairments into football. We have held various training camps and competitions, with athletes coming from around the world.
“We therefore know the demand is out there, but we are not quite at the stage where we have enough B1 players on each team. There are lots of reasons for this, many of which affect sport more generally.
“We are however determined to create a competitive environment for everyone. To do this we need to start by allowing a larger number of athletes to compete together. We want to encourage countries to invest in their programmes and recruit more female footballers, especially B1s.
“We think the change is a good decision by IBSA which will help us reach our goal of having more B1 women with visual impairments playing football at the highest levels.”
The separation between B1 and B2/B3 players in the men’s game remains the same.
B1, B2 and B3 women will be able to compete together until the IBSA Blind Football classification research project has finished.
Researchers from the University of Chichester in Great Britain are currently carrying out a review of the classification system in football 5-a-side. This will ensure it meets the International Paralympic Committee’s Athlete Classification Code.
Compliance with the Code, which requires sports to have an evidence-based and sport-specific system, is essential for inclusion on the Paralympic programme.
Once recommendations are received from the researchers, IBSA will review both the men’s and women’s game and make changes if necessary.
The IBSA Blind Football Women’s World Championships will take place later in 2020 with the host and dates set to be revealed soon.