“UEFA’s backing has enabled us to take blind football all over the continent and provide playing and training opportunities to thousands of blind and partially sighted boys and girls, women and men."
The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) has confirmed it will continue to support blind football for the period 2017-2021, and IBSA will continue to be one of UEFA’s key partners in its ‘Football for All Abilities’ portfolio, part of its Football and Social Responsibility division.
The IBSA Blind Football Development Project Europe for the coming four years will feature several initiatives aimed at spreading the game further to reach all European countries, with a particular focus on emerging countries, women’s involvement and youth programmes.
The IBSA project approved by UEFA includes several major events over the period, including the following (dates subject to change):
Spring 2018 – 3rd development tournament for emerging nations
Spring 2019 – 2nd blind football youth camp and tournament
Spring 2020 – 4th development tournament for emerging nations
Spring 2021 – 2nd women’s blind football camp and tournament
In addition, IBSA will continue to hold training weekends in new countries and work to expand its pool of accredited referees, as well as providing balls and eyeshades to countries and organisations across Europe. Plans are also in place to publish a coaching manual for new coaches and physical education teachers.
UEFA and IBSA will also work together to raise awareness of blind football, including on projects such as the UEFA EqualGame initiative (#EqualGame), which features, among others, blind Hungarian player Istvan Szabo, and showcases games at UEFA finals.
IBSA President Jannie Hammershoi said: “We are delighted that UEFA has renewed its support for blind football development in Europe, and renewed its trust in IBSA as one of UEFA’s core partners within its Football for All Abilities portfolio.
“UEFA’s backing has enabled us to take blind football all over the continent and provide playing and training opportunities to thousands of blind and partially sighted boys and girls, women and men.
“The success of the previous projects is self-evident - this year 15 European countries took part in the two divisions of our blind football European championships, more than in any other continent.
“We will use UEFA funding for the period 2017-2021 wisely and carefully to take the game to even more countries and strengthen those countries that already play. We will be targeting in particular youth programmes and programmes that are fully inclusive of women and girls.
“UEFA’s backing should serve as a role model for other regional football organisations and for FIFA to follow.”
Patrick Gasser, UEFA Head of Football and Social Responsibility, also welcomed the renewal of the partnership:
“UEFA is happy to continue its backing for IBSA and the development of blind football in Europe. IBSA has shown itself to be a worthy and reliable partner as part of our ‘Football for All Abilities’ portfolio and we are sure our support will be put to very good use.”
“We look forward to working with IBSA over the coming four years to ensure visually impaired footballers, regardless of their age or gender or where they live in Europe, are able to play and enjoy the game.”
IBSA and UEFA have enjoyed a partnership stretching back to 2006. Thanks to UEFA support, blind football is now played in over 35 European countries.
Full story is available on IBSA’s website.