5-a-side football is an adapted form of soccer for athletes with a visual impairment. Governed by the International Blind Sport Association since the mid-1990s, 5-a-side football has been part of the Paralympic Games program since Athens in 2004. Competition at the Paralympic Games, however, is currently open only to men’s teams.
The five players per team consist of four outfielders and one goalkeeper. Outfield players must be classified as completely blind (B1 category), which means they have very low visual acuity and/or no light perception, while the goalkeeper can be sighted or partially sighted (B2 or B3 category). Fair competition is ensured by all outfield players wearing eye shades.
The objective of 5-a-side football is to score more goals than your opponent. Unlike able-bodied football, there is no offside rule. To assist players, the ball has an inbuilt sound system that makes a noise when it moves and off-field guides provide additional auditory advice. The field of play is 40m long and 20m wide and is lined by kickboards to ensure the ball remains in play at all times. The game consists of two halves of 25 minutes each
At the Paralympics, eight teams participate in a tournament-style competition. The Brazilians are the powerhouse nation, winning every gold medal since the introduction of 5-a-side football to the Paralympics in 2004. The sport is little played in Australia and no Australian team has ever qualified for the Paralympic Games.