Published on September 12th, 2016 | by mpower
The Best Sport You May Never Knew Existed: 5 a-side Soccer for the Blind
Eli Wolff, Mpower Sports,
Mary Hums, Mpower Sports and University of Louisville
Photos: Gabriel Mayr
Watching Brazil in 5 a side soccer, a sport for athletes who are blind, is truly an amazing sports experience that you cannot miss. Soccer for the blind might just be the best sport in the world that many of us have never heard of. The athletes displayed amazing skill and talent on the ball. The first goal by Brazil #10 Ricardinho was simply a magical rocket that launched the crowd from silent observation into a thunderous “Brazil! Brazil! Brazil!” celebratory chant.
In soccer for the blind, players locate the ball by listening for a bell which is inside the ball. Because the athletes need to be able to hear the ball, the fans learn and consequently follow the referees’ instructions to remain silent during play. Of course, they can cheer and respond during the breaks in play, and the noise levels erupt after goals are scored – Goooooooal!! The fans engage with the match in spectacular fashion, focusing on the sport and the athletes as athletes first. In fact, the atmosphere in the arena was such where the disabilities of the athletes was not even a thought. Instead, fans focus was on the skill displayed in the beautiful game we know as soccer.
The second goal from Brazil was a penalty kick taken by #3 Cassio, where the quickness and accuracy of the shot eluded the sighted goalie from Turkey. Watching the penalty kick unfold, this brilliant goal made us all realize the essence of sport where people with and without disabilities can truly be involved together in meaningful ways at a competitive level. In fact, the growth of blind soccer and other sports like sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball involve the inclusion of athletes without disabilities to develop critical mass. Although most sports may not involve athletes without disabilities at the elite Paralympic level, blind soccer is indeed an example of the possibilities.
Brazil defeated Turkey 2-0 in the group play, with the crowd cheering inside and outside the stadium. Brazilian flags were waving and the transformed audience realized that they had just witnessed unbelievable sporting excellence.