Brazil are the dominant force in football 5-a-side, having won gold at every Paralympic Games since the sport’s debut at Athens 2004 and are undefeated at major competitions since 2007.
But they are now looking to extend their supremacy in the youth game on home soil at the fourth edition of the Youth Parapan American Games in Sao Paulo, from 20-25 March.
“It is good for us to see that there is a generational turnover,” said Brazilian Head Coach Fabio Vasconcelos, also the senior team’s goalkeeper at three Paralympics between 2004-2012 and the coach at Rio 2016.
“This is a team that needs to mature. Nevertheless, I apply to them the same methodology I use with the senior team so that once they grow they are used to it. We want to perform as good as possible on the field.”
Brazil will face Argentina, Colombia and Mexico in a round-robin. The top two teams from the group-stage will qualify for the gold-medal match and the two others will play for bronze. The event will feature players aged between 14-20 and will be held from 21-24 March.
“Argentina is always strong. They start playing football 5 at 11-13 years old and do a good job,” added Vasconcelos. “Mexico has a player that already plays for the senior team, so I assume those two will be the strongest rivals.”
The football 5 pitch is located beside the judo mat at the Brazilian Paralympic Centre.
The field adheres to the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) regulations. It is made of synthetic turf and is covered in order to create the necessary acoustics for the athletes to hear the noise-making device inside the ball, as well as their team-mates and guides.
The grandstands hold up to 228 spectators.
Over 800 athletes, aged 12-20 years old, from 20 countries are expected to participate in Sao Paulo, with 12 sports being contested: athletics, boccia, football 5, football 7, goalball, judo, powerlifting, sitting volleyball, swimming, table tennis, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair tennis.
Buenos Aires 2013 attracted more than 600 athletes from 16 countries, who competed across 10 sports. Brazil topped the medal table and 15 countries reached the podium at least once.
Barquisimeto, Venezuela, staged the inaugural edition in 2005, with athletes from 10 countries competing, whilst a total of 14 countries attended the event in Bogota, Colombia, in 2009.
For more information visit Sao Paulo 2017’s website.