Blind Soccer: Paralympic sport team to join lineup of London, Ont. soccer club

Whitecaps London will hold a one-day Blind Soccer event on Aug. 7 to expand and diversify their accessibility programs in London, Ont.

According to the Canadian Paralympic Committee, Blind Soccer, also known as Blind Football, Football 5-a-side, or Cecifoot, is an adaptation of soccer for athletes with a visual impairment.

It was featured in the Paralympics for the first time in 2004 in Athens.

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The teams are made up of four outfield players and one goalkeeper. Outfield players must be classified as completely blind, otherwise known as a B1 category in visual classifications, which means that they have very low visual acuity and or no light perception at all. The goalkeeper, however, must be slighted or partially sighted, falling in the B2 or B3 category.

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To ensure fair competition, all outfield players must wear some form of eyeshades.

The ball also makes a noise when kicked or moved due to an internal sound system that helps players “orientate themselves.”

Abbi Lezizedes, president of Whitecaps London, said that the organization is incorporating the event into its lineup as part of its new National Youth licence.

“With it, we have to meet certain conditions, [and] one of them is providing an accessibility program,” Lezizedes said.

While explaining the rules and regulations for Blind Soccer, Lezizedes said that in addition to the players being blindfolded, teams can also have off-field guides to assist them in games.

“When doing our research, it was fascinating because nine out of 10 times that ball got nailed in that corner, or the top corner, or wherever the guide was telling them to kick the ball,” he said, referencing various Blind Soccer training sessions Whitecaps organizers attended in preparation for their workshop.

“We were trained by the head coach of the blind national soccer team of France [and] he flew to Canada to train us,” Lezizedes added.

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Coming to the Forest City on Aug. 7, Lezizedes said the goal is to offer the program to every age group.

“The competitive circuit is mostly for players that, I want to say, are 14 to 15 plus. But again, if we get many blind athletes involved, we’ll have the proper age group separated for the proper training,” he said.

“You have to pre-register on our website to take part and after that we’re going to gauge how we proceed because we do want to offer a winter program and the summer program for blind soccer as well,” Lezizedes said.

“There’s currently three clubs in Ontario; Ottawa, Kitchener and Pickering have blind soccer teams, and we’re going to be the fourth, so it’s not new to Ontario, but it’s new to London,” he concluded.

For more information about Blind Soccer or the organization, visit the Whitecaps London website.


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