Aspiring blind footballers learn the right moves on the field thanks to Indian Blind Football Federation
March 4, 2019
India is home to thousands of para sportsmen and athletes are exceptionally skilled. But there are many untapped talents as well. Most of them go unnoticed due to the lack of platforms to perform well. The Indian Blind Football Federation (IBFF) aims to bridge gaps and break barriers to bring out talented blind footballers to the forefront.
Blind football was introduced as a paralympic event in the year 2004. Since then, blind people in different parts of the world have been training themselves to participate in international matches. In India, it was started off 17 years back by a few people who were working for people in the blind community. They were busy providing jobs to blind people and reaching out to them in all possible ways. That is when the idea of starting an exclusive football team popped up. IBFF has their main office in the national capital at New Delhi. They have a registered office in Kochi.
Sunil Mathew is the Sporting Director and Team Coach at IBFF. He has been an integral part of IBFF since a long time.
Our sole aim is to bring out blind and visually impaired players to the forefront. We hope to make maximum use of all the untapped skills and talents of blind footballers in India. Blind cricket is very popular in India and they have won many tournaments. Similarly, we wanted blind football to also be noticed. There is nothing that a blind person cannot do. Just that is will be done differently-Sunil Mathew, Sporting Director & Team Coach
There are over 600 blind footballers from across India who is part of IBFF. They undergo regular training and motivational sessions. Players at IBFF are gearing up for the upcoming national matches that are scheduled for 12 April.
"IBFF is the only Indian academy that is fully dedicated to promoting football amongst blind people. We are concentrating mainly in places like Kerala, North-East and Kolkata because there is a huge population of people that are focused completely in football. We hope to widen our reach to other parts of India very soon", says Mathew.
Blind football is not completely like how people without disabilities play the game. Like for instance, the ground will be smaller. But the goal keeper will be a person who is not blind.
IBFF does not have any government support but a handful of kind-hearted sponsors including Healing Lives and Tata Trusts as their main sponsors who makes sure that the academy runs smoothly.
Alsad Rubb,a football enthusiast and owner of a football turf in Kochi, says the IBFF is a great initiative.
"IBFF is a master initiative to encourage people with disabilities to take up an activity to pursue and also use the same platform to build a strong support system. We, as responsible citizens should be driven to reach out to such talents and lift them up. IBFF has done a stellar job in setting an example for many to follow", says Rubb.