Shillong, Jan 22: In a boost to sports activities for people with disabilities, the 3rd North East Blind Football Tournament will begin in Shillong from Wednesday, with 10 teams and over 100 players from the North East and West Bengal taking part.
The tournament is being organised by the Indian Blind Football Federation (IBFF).
The four-day tournament will conclude on Republic Day with the semifinals and final. The matches will be held at the Shillong Public School in Laitumkhrah. The opening match will be between Bethany Society of Shillong and Moran Blind School of Dibrugarh at 2PM.
The 10 teams have been divided into two pools of five. In Pool A are North East Shower Blind Football Club (Arunachal Pradesh), FABB Kolkata (West Bengal), Handicapped Association (Manipur), Garo National Blind Football Club (Meghalaya) and Siliguri Blind School (West Bengal). In Pool B are Bethany Society (Meghalaya), Mizoram Blind Society, Moran Blind School (Assam), Mont Fort School (Assam) and Newbies United.
Blind football is a five-a-side game played on a futsal ground. It is played in nearly 60 countries around the world and India is ranked 29th.
In blind football, all players except the goalkeeper are blindfolded and are assisted by a coach and a goal guide. The players are guided by the sound of the ball, which contains bells. The goalkeeper, goal guide (who stays behind the opposite goal) and the coach (who runs along the side of the pitch) are the three sighted assistants who call out and direct the players to move with the ball.
Blind football is a Paralympic sport and the IBFF is affiliated to the Paralympic Committee of India and the International Blind Sports Federation, New Delhi. It is the only body that is promoting and organising football for the blind in India. The IBFF has been developing blind football players at the grassroots through awareness camps around the country since 2013.