5-a-side Blind Soccer Has Arrived!

Authors: Mark Slavin, Director of Texas Blind Soccer

Keywords: blind soccer, football, recreation, leisure, Paralympics, sports, kickboard, goalkeeper, field players

Abstract: Mark Slavin, a coach and athlete who is visually impaired, is the Director of Texas Blind Soccer. In this article, he describes 5-a-side blind soccer, tells how it started, and looks toward the future.

A badge with the text: EST. 2021, Texas Blind Soccer, and the outline of a soccer ball

5-a-side blind soccer, or football, is an adapted version of soccer for individuals who are blind or visually impaired. Pioneered in Spain during the 1920s, the first world championship was played in 1998, and it became a Summer Paralympic sport in 2004. The United States began developing a 5-a-side blind soccer men’s national team in 2022 and will compete in their first Paralympics competition during the Los Angeles 2028 Summer Paralympics. 

Players do not have to be visually impaired or blind to play 5-a-side soccer recreationally; they just have to be willing to put on a blindfold. In 5-a-side, each team fields five players which includes a sighted goalkeeper and four blind or blindfolded field players. The pitch is smaller than a regulation soccer pitch at 131 feet by 65 feet. Kickboards run the length of the field on both sides to help with orientation and to keep the ball in play.  

The ball has four to six sound mechanisms that help the blind/blindfolded outfield players locate the ball and determine possession. Goalkeepers are sighted and provide audible direction and feedback to assist and support the defensive field players. The offensive field players are supported in the same manner by a sighted offensive guide positioned behind the attacking goal. Defensive field players receive similar audible support in the midfield from their coach or assistant coach. 

Field players not in possession of the ball must shout “Voy!,” as they approach an opposing player who has the ball. This lets the player who possesses the ball know another player is approaching to attempt to stop them and take the ball away. Since the ball makes noise, the player in possession is not required to say anything. There are two 15-minute halves and games may end in a win, loss, or draw based on the score. 

Texas Blind Soccer is the premier blind soccer league in Texas and hosts the Texas Annual Blind Soccer Tournament. Coaches are all blind soccer certified with unique backgrounds that offer balanced support to local participants as well as national support to individuals and programs across the United States. Backgrounds for coaches of Texas Blind Soccer include, but are not limited to, Adaptive Physical Education teachers, Teachers of Students with Visual Impairment (TSVI), Orientation and Mobility Specialists, collegiate and recreation soccer players and coaches, and athletes or coaches in other sports who are visually impaired. Texas Blind Soccer provides local 5-a-side blind soccer practice, training, and games to individuals three (3) years of age and up throughout North Texas.

In addition to local programs, Texas Blind Soccer offers guidance, support, and equipment assistance for individuals or groups wishing to bring blind soccer to their communities around the state of Texas and across the nation. 

If you wish to learn more about 5-a-side blind soccer or want to schedule an onsite demonstration, contact Mark Slavin, Director of Texas Blind Soccer and a coach/visually impaired athlete, by calling or texting him at 469-446-8863 or via email at The passion of Texas Blind Soccer is to support the blind community through sports, so please let them know how they can help.

Blind soccer aiming lesson

Blind soccer kicking lesson

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