By Justin Schroth
Living with a disability, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy activities, it doesn’t mean you can’t play sports, and for many it doesn’t mean inability at all. There is no better place to prove this than the upcoming Japan 2020 Olympic and Paralympic games. Athletes from all over the world, many living with various disabilities, will be participating in games that demand skilled players.
The skills these Athletes bring are honed over many years before trying out for the Olympic and Paralympic games. In major televised sports events like Football (Soccer for the US readers), these Athletes often bring national or even world recognition for the skills they display. So, if it was to be suggested that a Professional Football Olympic Athlete may find it difficult to compete in a Paralympic version of Football, you may find it hard to believe. However, Andrés Iniesta Luján, nine-time winner of the Spanish football league, 2010 FIFA World Cup, and more, would agree with that suggestion.
Yesterday, 15 August 2019, the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee released a video showing that very event. Andrés got to play the Paralympic game “Football 5-a-side” and experience just how much skill is required to compete in the sport. Football 5-a-side is like a slimmed down version of football, with one major difference, most of the players are blindfolded. The game is intended for players with little to no vision, and the blindfold is to ensure that everyone is equal. The ball itself is designed so that it makes an audible noise that players can track by listening. Also, for safety and to be courteous to other players when moving around on the field (e.g. searching for, or moving with, the ball), players must call out to each other (usually using the Spanish word “voy”). The game can be quite intense, and as Andrés found out, requires skills even a World Cup winning Professional Football Athlete may not have!
The video released by the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, found here “Experience the Unbelievable,” is a wonderful view comparing the Olympic and Paralympic games. Showing that both require highly skilled players, and both should be respected, because as Andrés said when referring to his experience, it is “Incredible.”
If you want to want to learn more about “Football 5-a-side” you can find more information by www.paralympic.org at this link: https://www.paralympic.org/football-5-a-side
“Experience the Unbelievable [Video].” Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_nyxi2vx58.
“Football 5-a-side.” www.paralympic.org, https://www.paralympic.org/football-5-a-side