The Brazilian Confederation of Sports for People with Visual Impairments (CBDV) will host a 5-a-side football festival for women in Sao Paulo in May – the first of its kind in the country.
In 2019, the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) announced that the inaugural IBSA Blind Football Women’s World Championships will take place in Enugu, Nigeria, from 21-29 November.
This prompted the Brazilians, whose men’s team is the reigning world and Paralympic champions, to begin to develop their women’s team.
The festival will be held at the state of the art Paralympic Training Centre, where the country’s best Para athletes live and train. It aims to bring together players from club teams across Brazil who are at the forefront of growing the women’s game.
"It was a demand from the players since last year, but we had no motivation because there was no prospect of a championship. From the moment the CBDV signalled that this festival would take place, we raised the idea, the board supported and the girls proposed the training," said André Vicente, who coaches a men’s club team and around 11 women interested in the sport.
Currently most female players train in another Paralympic sport for people with visual impairments – goalball.
This includes Neusimar Clemente:
"I was always interested, even when there was a women's soccer clinic in Espírito Santo, I participated, but it was very basic. Since I didn’t go forward and I am in goalball, I continued in goalball."
In Canoas, home to the best men's football 5-a-side club team in the country, Agafuc, has taken the first steps towards forming a female squad.
Six players aged between 16-42 use the facilities and contacts of the club, including the guidance of player Rafael Martins, who conducts training sessions with his wife, Marisabel Dias.
"They are girls who have never played football, they have not had the opportunity,” Dias said. “I am still looking for new girls to make the team solid, not just for fun but a team that can compete against others.”
In 2009 an unofficial blind football women’s competition was held in Marburg, Germany, for teams already in existence around the world.
A Brazilian club team, Urece-RJ, travelled to Europe…and claimed the trophy after an unbeaten run.
Gisele Santos, now a goalball player, was on that team.
"My experience was inexplicable, something new, a challenge, I had no idea,” Santos said.
“We started training in June and the competition was in November. I liked the first contact with the ball, although I find it difficult. But I like challenges, to overcome my limits. The words 'I never' and 'I can't'’ do not exist in my vocabulary."
The CBDV’s women’s blind football festival will be held from 28-31 May. There will be clinics, lectures and training, culminating with matches on the final day if the event progresses well.
A total of 28 places are available and players must provide their own boots, shin guards and gloves (for goalkeepers). CBDV will provide shirts, shorts and socks.
To register, complete the form at this link.