Blind Football made its first appearance in France during the twentieth century through the French Blind Football Championships. Organised by Fédération Française Handisport
, the inaugural championships took place in March 1998, with a two-fold competition: Blind Football (B1 Classification) and Partially Sighted Futsal (B2/B3 Classification). The championship is spilt into four phases over the duration of a season.
Today, the French Blind Football Championships is one of the largest blind football tournaments in the world. With over a dozen teams regularly competing in the championships, including teams from Belgium, the championships are an exhilarating experience for all players, coaches and referees involved.
The first phase of the 2017-18 French Blind Football Championship was hosted by Don Bosco Cécifoot at the Plaine de Jeux de l'Eraudière in Nantes from 2nd to 3rd December. A total of fifteen teams will compete in this year’s championships.
Eight Blind Football teams are in the B1 category: Don Bosco Cécifoot Nantes, FC Girondins de Bordeaux (current French champions), Paris AVH,
Sporting Cécifoot Schiltigheim,
Team Cécifoot As Violaines,
AS Cécifoot Saint Mandé, Toulouse Football Cécifoot and Brussels 5-a-side Anderlecht (Belgium).
Seven partially sighted futsal teams are competing in the B2/B3 category: AC Boulogne Billancourt (reigning Partially Sighted Futsal Champions), Paris AVH, Le Havre AC, Royal Standard Cécifoot Liège (Belgium), Marseille and Asv Cecifoot Villeurbanne.
The Championship was widely publicised by Ligue De Football Des Pays De La Loire
and France Ligue 1 side FC Nantes, who both promoted the event on their website and across their social media platforms. In addition, FC Nantes midfielder Adren Thomasson sponsored the first phase
and made a video which encouraged football fans to watch the games over the weekend.
Blind Football Summary
Toulouse and St Mande started off the B1 category on a frosty pitch, which made it difficult for the players to get a firm grip on the ball. That didn’t stop the Saint Mandé’s striking partners Bandiougou Traorè and captain Tidane Diakité, who pressed Toulouse high up the field and tested the Toulouse goalkeeper on several occasions.
Toulouse reacted in the second half with direct dribbling
from their captain David Labarre who come close to scoring the first goal of the day. However, the slippery surface appeared to be a tough challenge for both teams to get a clean shot on goal, consequently leading to the first game ending in a goalless draw.
Caption: Saint Mandé’s captain Tidane Diakité measures up to take a shot on goal
The number of fans began to rise as the time drew closer for the afternoon matches. FC Girondins de Bordeaux got off to a slow start in their first game against hosts Don Bosco Cécifoot, but they managed to overcome to hosts with a 1-0 win. FC Girondins de Bordeaux went on to win the rest of their games and lead the top of the B1 competition table, with their goalkeeper keeping a clean sheet throughout.
The fans were in awe of the amazing flair of the captain Frédéric Villeroux, alongside his teammates Khalifa Youme and Abdérrahim Maya, who scored a terrific backheel goal
against Brussels 5-a-side Anderlecht.
Frédéric Villeroux, who made his debut in the French Championship in 2001 and represented the French national team for a decade (2003-2013), gave us his thoughts on his team’s performance and the development of the Championship:
“We didn’t play very well to start off with, but we continued to work hard. We scored a lot of goals because we played high up the field, which gave us many chances to win the ball and shoot. The level of the championships has improved, because many teams are structured with training both physically and tactically. There are a lot of new coaches who are involved in this discipline who understand it is not just for leisure.”
Caption: Abdérrahim Maya attempts to pass to Girondins de Bordeaux Captain Frédéric Villeroux.
Partially Sighted Championships summary
B2/B3 Futsal Champions Royal Standard Cécifoot Liège from Belgium top the group of the B2/B3 competition, taking all twelve points back home. Liège were a stern opposition who weren’t short of goal scorers; the team scored a total of fifteen goals, and caused an upset in their last game when they beat former five-time champions AC Boulogne Billancourt 4-3 on Sunday 2nd. It was an end-to-end game which AC Boulogne Billancourt were catching up to, but Liège tired out the four-man Billancourt team in the last ten minutes to score the winner.
Caption: AC Boulogne Billancourt and French B2/B3 Captain Jean Gury takes a shot at the Liege goal.
Despite a higher goal difference than Liège, AC Boulogne Billancourt will need to catch up on points with Liège if they are to take the title from the reigning champions. AC Boulogne Billancourt won three of their four games, despite having only four players. Billancourt were aggressive on the counter-attack and compact in defence to help reduce their goal difference. Captain Jean Gury, who scored thirteen of Billancourt’s eighteen goals, felt his team-mates worked extremely hard and have their eyes on a sixth title:
“It was quite difficult for my team this weekend because we have a lot of players missing, but we won all three of our matches on the first day because we were attentive and tight in defence. Our only target is to win the championship and in the future play foreign B2/B3 Futsal Leagues.”
French Blind Football Championship 2017/18 Schedule
Second Phase – 24th and 25th March 2018 – Violaines
Third Phase – 12th and 13th May 2018 – Toulouse
Fourth Phase – 26th and 27th May 2018 – Sallingy (Haute Savoie)
In addition to the French Blind Football Championships, the French Blind Football Cup will take place in the city of Bouaye from 28th-29th April 2018.
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