Colorado Springs, Colo. (January 5, 2022) –The United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) has received the highest level of certification from the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) to become the national governing body for blind soccer, globally known as blind football, a sport in which Team USA will make its Paralympic debut as the host nation of the Los Angeles 2028 Games. The certification was approved at the USOPC board of directors meeting on Dec. 16, 2021, in Salt Lake City. The USOPC also certified USABA as the national governing body for goalball, giving the organization charge over two Paralympic team sports.
“USABA has successfully proven itself as the high-performance management organization for goalball since 1976, and now we boldly look to the future and proudly accept the challenge of developing the exciting sport of blind soccer in the United States,” said USABA CEO Molly Quinn. “We are building blind soccer from the ground up, having already initiated grassroots opportunities across the U.S. over the past several years by hosting blind soccer clinics and camps to educate physical education teachers, coaches and players. Soccer is the most recognized sport across the U.S. and through our growing partnership with US Soccer as a member organization, we will utilize the club soccer pipeline to introduce players to the sport.”
USABA’s development and level of international success in the sport of goalball directly contributed to the organization’s certification as blind soccer’s national governing body. Goalball has been a part of the Paralympic Games since its inception in 1976 and the United States has been a consistent worldwide leader in the sport, garnering 12 Paralympic Games medals and 11 world championship medals. Those totals are more than twice as many as any other country. This past summer in Tokyo, the U.S. goalball teams continued that legacy of success as both reached the medal round at the Paralympic Games, with the men finishing fourth and the women winning the silver medal.
An exciting adaptation of the world’s most popular sport, blind soccer is played in more than 60 countries and has become the fastest-growing Paralympic sport in the world. Blind soccer has been part of the Paralympic Games since 2004 but the U.S. has never fielded a team in an international competition. That will all change in the coming years as USABA develops a national team to compete at international competitions leading up to LA28.
“With this national governing body designation from the USOPC, the United States Association of Blind Athletes will strive to attain the same competitive excellence with blind soccer as it has successfully done with goalball,” said USABA Board Chair Mark Ackermann. “These two Paralympic sports provide Americans who are blind or visually impaired greater access to a healthy lifestyle as well as the camaraderie that comes with participating in a team sport. Our spectacular leadership team at USABA will be working diligently in the years ahead to assure that we field the best possible goalball and blind soccer teams in the Paralympic Games.”
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USABA’s mission is to empower Americans who are blind and visually impaired to experience life-changing opportunities in sports, recreation, and physical activities, thereby educating and inspiring the nation. For more information, go to www.usaba.org.
Goalball is the most popular team sport for the blind and visually impaired. The sport originated in 1946 when Austrian Hanz Lorrenzen and German Sett Reindle developed the game as a way to keep blinded WWII veterans physically active. Goalball has since become the premier team sport for blind athletes and is played competitively in 112 countries. Since 1976, U.S. goalball teams have earned 12 Paralympic Games medals (women: 2 gold, 3 silver, 2 bronze; men: 1 gold, 3 silver, 1 bronze) and 11 world championship medals (women: 4 gold, 2 silver, 2 bronze; men: 1 gold, 2 bronze).
About Blind Soccer (Blind Football)
Soccer for the blind and partially sighted began in schools for people with visual impairments. Spain is considered to be the pioneer of the sport having started playing in the 1920s. The first national championships occurred in Brazil in 1974. In 2004, blind soccer made its Paralympic debut at the Athens Games. IBSA blind soccer is for players that have severe visual impairments. They are known as B1 athletes.