Living in Latin America, I learned many things about soccer. One is this: Brazil is a powerhouse. Therefore, it is no surprise to learn, that the Brazil 5-a-side paralympic team has never lost a match. This year seems to be no different and they will be competing against France in the Finals today.
Brazil has 185 athletes competing in the London Paralympics and have already won 35 medals. Tonight, they are hoping for another Gold.
Classification information for 5-a-side soccer:
The classification rules of the International Federation for Football 5-a-side state that athletes with a visual impairment are eligible to compete in the sport at the Paralympics.
All four outfield players must wear blackout eyeshades to ensure fairness. The goalkeeper may be fully sighted but he is not allowed to leave his penalty area.
The football contains ball bearings to produce a noise when it moves.
Soccer, however, is not just played by those with visual impariments. 7-a-side is played by those with physical limitations:
The classification rules of the International Federation for Football 7-a-side state that athletes with a physical impairment that affects their coordination are eligible to compete in the sport at the Paralympics.
The majority of players that compete in Football 7-a-side at the Paralympics have cerebral palsy.
Classification also groups athletes in classes, defined by the degree to which they are limited in their ability to perform activities within that sport. In Football 7-a-side there are four classes and they can be described as follows:
C5 – athletes whose impairment causes the greatest disadvantage on the field of play and has a significant impact when walking and running
C6 – athletes with an impairment that have an impact on the control and coordination of their arms, especially when running
C7 – athletes with an impairment that affect one arm and one leg on the same side of the body
C8 – athletes whose impairments cause the least disadvantage on the field of play; they often have involuntary muscle contractions as well as a tightness in their muscles
To minimise the impact of impairment on the outcome of competition teams must include at least one athlete with either C5 or C6 classification on the pitch and no more than two C8 players are allowed to play at the same time.