ParalympicsGB had never competed in Football 5-a-side until Beijing 2008. The GB team qualified for Beijing by virtue of their 2nd place finish at the 2007 European Championships, in which they lost out to six-time European Champions Spain.
In Beijing the GB team finished 5th. Since then they have performed consistently, winning silver at the 2009 European Championships in Nantes, France and finishing 4th at the 2010 World Championships, which was hosted in Hereford in the UK. They continued to their form at the 2011 European Championships in Turkey, finishing 3rd behind winners France and runners-up Spain.
At London 2012 the British side narrowly missed out by losing their final group-stage game 0-1 to Iran which, had they won by two goals, could have taken them through to the medal matches. The team finished in 7th place in the competition.
The team for London included Dave Clarke, who featured in Channel 4’s documentary Inside Incredible Athletes. Clarke is one of GB’s most capped players, having secured his 100th cap during the team's first match at the Beijing Games, and he played the last match of his career in the 7th/8th place play off at London 2012 in front of a sell-out crowd.
- First year at a Paralympic Games:
- Athens 2004
- Brief history:
- Football 5-a-side emerged in Spain in the mid-80s
- Eligible impairment groups:
- All players must be B1 level of visual impairment (although the goalkeeper may be sighted)
- London medal table:
- 1 - Brazil
2 - France
3 - Spain
7 - Great Britain
- Did you know:
- As in non-disabled Football, Brazil dominates this game. The team triumphed at the Paralympic Games in 2004 and successfully defended their crown in 2008 and 2012.
- London 2012 venue:
- Riverbank Arena, Olympic Park
- Rio 2016 venue:
- Olympic Hockey Centre (Deodoro Zone)
Played by athletes who have visual impairments, the game uses a special ball with a bell inside that makes a noise as it moves to guide the players.
Matches are played between two teams, each with four athletes who have a B1 level of visual impairment and one goalkeeper who can be sighted or visually impaired (plus five substitutes). The goalkeeper must stay in his penalty area throughout the game, but can issue instructions to outfield players. Each team also has a guide behind the opponent’s goal to direct the players when they shoot.
As the pitch is surrounded with a rebound wall, there are no throw-ins, which results in a flowing and fast-paced spectacle. There is also no off-side rule.
Matches are played over two halves of 25 minutes each, plus 10 minutes for half-time. In the event of a draw, the match may go to penalties. Penalties are also awarded if a player touches their eyeshade, if the goalkeeper steps outside their area or if a player kicks or pushes an opponent.
Before attempting to tackle, players must shout the word ‘voy’ so that the person they are attempting to tackle is aware. This is designed to prevent injuries wherever possible. Players committing five fouls during one game are disqualified from the game.
All players must be B1 level of visual impairment, although all outfield players wear eye shades to make sure they compete on equal terms.
Goalkeepers can be are fully-sighted or visually impaired.