Today is World Sight Day, a global event that focuses on bringing attention to blindness and vision impairment.
While many people are born with some form of vision impairment, people’s sight often deteriorates with age and can also be affected by disease, macular degeneration, trauma, or other conditions.
According to the World Health Organization, preventable vision impairment now impacts more than one billion people around the world. That’s why the theme for 2021 is #LoveYourEyes.
As a part of this year’s World Sight Day, you are encouraged to:
- Have an eye test as soon as you can
- Don’t ignore changes in your vision
- Maintain ongoing treatment if you have an existing eye condition.
Football Victoria (FV) is a passionate advocate of All-Abilities football and hosts a number of programs which cater for people who live with blindness or vision impairment.
The program is led by FV Blind Football Coordinator Amir Abdi. Amir was sighted up until the age of 12, before an essential eye operation changed his life forever, causing permanent and irreversible blindness.
It is difficult to imagine the challenges one faces when experiencing such a traumatic event at a young age, but Amir’s resilience and adaptability drove him to commence a journey that has resulted in him re-establishing his life in Australia.
“I understood early on that education was going to a vehicle to my personal progress. I learnt to read braille in Persian and Arabic and also started playing goalball and soccer,” Amir said.
Born as an Iranian Kurd in a small farming village, Amir studied a Psychology Degree at the esteemed Tehran University before emigrating to Australia, where he furthered his education and learned to read braille in English.
Like countless people around the globe, Amir fell in love with football, not just for the on-field action, but for the sense of connection and belonging it provided off it.
“As a blind person you can experience many obstacles like loss of self, poor ego, low confidence and social anxiety,” Amir said.
“I discovered I was good at sport and this was important for me. It gave me a sense of identity, value and status.”
Amir now proudly represents the green and gold at the highest level and is Australia’s Captain for the national Blind Football team (B1).
B1 football is an internationally recognised sport played at the Paralympics. It is played outdoors by blind and partially vision impaired athletes on a 40m x 20m pitch, with side kickboards and an audible ball.
On the pitch teams play five-a-side, with outfield players wearing eye-shades to ensure each player’s sight is equal.
Amir’s tremendous sporting achievements and passionate activism have inspired many others with physical or mental disabilities to play the world game, but he still believes more needs to be done to raise awareness of All-Abilities football so that everyone can have an equal opportunity to play.
“For people who live with a disability, it can be intimidating to take that first step and give football a try. But our programs are built around providing a safe and inclusive environment, so I would encourage anyone who is interest to join,”Amir added.
Football Victoria also supports the game in B2 and B3 format. These are for athletes who are visually impaired or partially sighted, but not completely blind. B2 and B3 football are played to Futsal rules but with minor modifications.
Football Victoria works with Australian Blind Football, South Melbourne FC and Blind Sports & Recreation Victoria to provide opportunities for people with a vision impairment of all ages and skill levels to play.
“We are in the development stage which requires collaboration with partners. We appreciate our partners and hope they will continue to support us to advance this beautiful game," Amir said.
If you would like to learn more about Blind Football or know someone who might be interested in getting involved, please visit the following page.