The International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) has announced that the University of Chichester in Great Britain will lead research into a sports specific classification system for IBSA Blind Football.
A team of experts from Chichester and other universities and research centres will carry out the project, which will allow the sport to meet the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC’s) classification code and International Standards.
The research will be split into three phases over two years.
Stage one will involve consultation and surveys of athletes, coaches and administrators from 5-a-side football. The second stage will involve developing performance tests that reflect elements of football likely to be impacted by a visual impairment.
In the third and final phase researchers will simulate different type of impairments in sighted footballers to determine the minimum level of impairment for blind football.
Once this is complete, further work for another two years is envisaged which will involve testing with people with a visual impairment to establish appropriate sport classes.
Dr. Oliver Runswick, Senior Lecturer in Sport Psychology (Skill Acquisition), will lead the research alongside five other experts from the fields of sports science, physiology and optometry.
The project will also involve the IPC’s visual impairment research centre, the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. High quality applications from 12 universities were received to carry out the research before a thorough selection process.
IBSA Blind Football Chairperson, Ulrich Pfisterer, said: “I would like to thank Dr. Runswick and the other experts for submitting a strong research proposal for this important area. It is truly a collaborative effort being carried out by some of the world’s leading institutions."
“We are very interested to see their research unfold over the coming years to create a robust set of proposals for how classification in blind football can be improved.”
Dr. Runswick said: “Here at the University of Chichester we are delighted to have been selected from a number of strong applications to take the lead on this project. It’s fantastic to be involved with a project that can have a real and positive impact on the sport. We look forward to working closely with IBSA and colleagues from IPC’s visual impairment research centre to achieve this.”
Dr Oliver Runswick will lead the research alongside five experts from the fields of sports science, physiology.
The IPC’s classification code and standards came into effect in January 2017. In order to meet the requirements IBSA Blind Football needs to:
1. Develop sport-specific classification systems through scientific research. Research must be evidence-based and focus on the relationship between impairment and key performance determinants in that sport.
2. Ensure athlete input is solicited to assist in research and to improve the classification system.
3. Ensure that classification research complies with internationally recognised ethical standards and research practices.
IBSA has received funding from the IPC for the project. It will not only help to establish the minimum impairment criteria, but will also provide a validated set of tests of performance suitable for future work.