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Disability Football: 5 - 7 a Side & Soccer

Disabled World: Revised/Updated: 2016/06/11

Synopsis: Information regarding disability football including soccer and 5 and 7 a side games.

Main Document

For many years, disabled people have been spectators, as others have enjoyed the highs and lows of playing football. But in recent years variations of disability football have been devised to allow virtually any disabled person to play, and to enjoy the thrills of taking part, and winning.

Paralympic football consists of adaptations of the sport of association football for athletes with a physical disability. These sports are typically played using International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) rules, with modifications to the field of play, equipment, numbers of players, and other rules as required to make the game suitable for the athletes.

Disability Football Games:

  • 5-a-side football - Also known as futal and blind football, is an adaptation of football for athletes with visual impairments including blindness. The sport, governed by the International football Sports Federation (IBSA), is played with modified FIFA rules.
  • 7-a-side football - An adaptation of association football for athletes with cerebral palsy and other neurological disorders, including stroke and traumatic brain injury. The sport is governed by the Cerebral Palsy International Sports and Recreation Association (CP-ISRA).
  • Wheelchair Football - A fast-paced sport that is best played when athletes are in maximum physical condition, and at the top of their game in teamwork, strategy and wheelchair-handling skills for both manual wheelchair and power wheelchair users.
  • Wheelchair soccer - A variation of association football, in which all of the participants are wheelchairs users due to physical disability. Intellectual disabilities can also be a factor, but this is not always the case. The wheelchairs can be either motorized, or manually pushed.

Disability football is now available from local clubs to international tournaments and several of the international governing bodies now hold their own World Cup finals, as in the non-disabled game.

British Blind Sport runs the national 5-a-side football league for visually impaired players. It also hosts football development days throughout the country and an annual national schools tournament (for under 18's).

Probably many wonder how the blind can play football.

The principle is pretty simple. The ball is specially designed to produce sounds as it moves, so that the players know where it is located. The goalkeepers have a special coach behind them, who tells them where they need to go, left or right.

According to many blind persons from birth, they became drawn to football because of the hype they feel around them when a match is played, and even though they cannot see a thing, they can relate to it. There are many countries, like Japan, France, Argentina, Spain, Brazil and England, that have organized associations of visually impaired or partially sighted footballers and since 2002, world championships have been held.

The FA run both an England Partially Sighted team and an England Blind team football.

These teams compete at the European Championships and the World Cup. The FA's regional Ability Counts leagues give CP players the opportunity to play regular competitive football, and progress to the England squad.

Prior to 1999, The Football Association support for Disability Football was limited. Through the Technical Department a Disabled Working Party was formed, chaired by Ted Copeland.

This group produced a booklet to assist coaches to work with players with learning difficulties and launched the preliminary soccer star test. This test was especially designed for use by players with a learning difficulty. Due to the plethora of organizations representing disabled people, The FA found it difficult to produce a coherent all embracing strategy for disabled football.

Since the early days of the program, The FA has developed Ability Counts as its national activity program ensuring disabled people have opportunities to play and train on a local level. Throughout England, players are participating in 54 clubs in season 05/06. The clubs are either Football in the Community schemes or Charter Standard Development or Community Clubs.

British Blind Sport is a registered charity and the co-ordinating body of sport for the blind and partially sighted in the UK. BBS tries to encourage as many blind and partially sighted children and adults as possible to participate in sport at all levels. All the sports are run by sub committees, staffed by visually impaired and sighted volunteers.

The FA is continuously committed to creating opportunities at all levels for anyone with a disability to get involved in football - whether as a player, referee, administrator, coach or spectator. There's also a national network of county disability centers, specialist clubs and a structured pathway for individuals to realize their full potential. The FA also works closely with clubs at all levels to provide guidance and advice on welcoming disabled players and supporters - and to comply with current legislation.

Paralympic football consists of adaptations of the sport of association football for athletes with a disability.

These sports are typically played using International Federation of Associated Football (FIFA) rules, with modifications to the field of play, equipment, numbers of players, and other rules as required to make the game suitable for the athletes.

The two most prominent versions of Paralympic football are Football 5-a-side, for athletes with visual impairments, and Football 7-a-side, for athletes with cerebral palsy.

The Football Development Team are keen to support any club wishing to become more accessible to people with disabilities or wishing to establish a disability football team within the club.

Various changes in the rules can take place to facilitate those who are playing and their impairments, but the intention is always to keep the game as close as possible to the standard, non-disabled sport.

Disability Soccer Playing

Amputee soccer is played in over 30 countries around the world, the American Amputee Soccer Association is currently seeking Paralympic inclusion for the sport. The World Amputee Football Federation web site can be found at www.worldamputeefootball.org

Players competing in 7-a-side football are given a sport class based on their level of disability.

  • C5: Athletes with difficulties when walking and running, but not in standing or when kicking the ball.
  • C6: Athletes with control and co-ordination problems of their upper limbs, especially when running.
  • C7: Athletes with hemiplegia.
  • C8: Minimally disabled athletes; they must meet eligibility criteria and have an obvious impairment that has impact on the sport of football.



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