Lima 2019 is getting ready to welcome the best football 5-a-side Para athletes from all over the Americas during the sixth edition of the Parapan American Games.
Football 5-a-side is an alternative version of conventional football for people with visual impairment, where two teams of five players each, including the goalkeeper, face each other in a match of two 25-minute periods. Teams commonly have a guide positioned off the field of play and behind the goal being attacked, who assists in directing players towards the target, so they can score. The participants must wear a mask or blindfold to have equal conditions, regardless of their impairment degree. In both cases, the goalkeeper is the only sighted player within the team. For this sport, the ball is equipped with a noise-making device to allow players to locate it by sound.
One of the differences with conventional football is the fact that there are no offside rules since two lateral fences of 1.20 m high prevent the ball from leaving the field. Besides the penalty kick, there is a double penalty, which is kicked 8 m from the goal. The official ball has internal bells and its sound guides the players. In addition, three "callers", who are located in the orientation thirds, give them instructions. Despite these resources, talking too much could be counterproductive, as it might disturb the players during the game.
Football-5-a-side was introduced as an official sport at the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games. In the last editions of this Paralympic event, Brazil came out as the big winner both at Toronto 2015 and Guadalajara 2011. Argentina repeated its success and bagged the 2nd place at Toronto 2015; while the Mexican national team claimed a well-deserved 3rd place, thus replacing Colombia, who had managed to conquer the bronze medal in 2011.
Eyeshades: Worn by the on-field athletes, eyeshades allow players with varying degrees of vision to compete together on an equal level.
Guide's area: The football pitch is divided into thirds. Each team is allowed one guide in each of the thirds to call out instructions.
Pitch: The field of play of 20 m x 40 m.