The IBSA Football Committee has published statistics detailing the strong support it has provided to countries in Europe during the 2017-2018 season.
IBSA Blind Football donated 202 balls, 211 sets of cloth eyeshades and 39 sets of official black-out eyeshades to 19 countries between July 2017 and June 2018 thanks to IBSA’s partnership with UEFA
Nineteen countries received balls, 16 countries received cloth eyeshades and 6 countries were recipients of official eyeshades thanks to the IBSA Blind Football Development Project Europe
. The beneficiaries included four new countries - Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Switzerland.
Donations focused on programmes in new and emerging countries and were targeted to grassroots programmes, youth development and women’s involvement in blind football, in line with the agreement between IBSA and UEFA.
This project is made possible thanks to IBSA’s status as a Football and Social Responsibility partner with UEFA, a relationship that stretches back over ten years. Last year UEFA confirmed its continued support for the project until June 2021.
Through the project, since 2012 a total of 1 375 balls, 1 119 eyeshades and 127 sets of black-out goggles have been distributed to blind football development programmes in 43 European countries.
Any national federation, blind sports club, school for the blind or individual in Europe wishing to introduce or further develop blind football is invited to apply for equipment to the following e-mail address - email@example.com
. Priority will be given to new countries, emerging countries and programmes to boost youth involvement (under 23) and women’s blind football.
Caption: black and white picture of a blind football bearing the UEFA Respect and IBSA logos.
A spokesperson for the project highlighted the need to continue giving support and the importance of UEFA backing; “We estimate that blind football is now played in almost 40 European countries in some way - this ranges from local, grassroots programmes to full-blown national teams in around 20 countries. UEFA’s strong commitment to blind football has been instrumental in reaching these figures, a 50% increase in participating countries since 2012.”
“Being able to donate such huge amounts of equipment has been vital because it is expensive and can hinder development. Now our focus in on expanding blind football to even more European countries, on grassroots programmes, and on encouraging young visually impaired people and women with a visual impairment to take up this beautiful game.”
“The growth of blind football in Europe shows how much can be done with relatively small sums of financial support, and we need to show the European project to other regional football organisations and FIFA to replicate it in other parts of the world. If they come on board then for blind football worldwide the sky’s the limit!”
Caption: UEFA #EqualGame/Respect logo.