Football 5-a-side

Nonato of Brazil fights for the ball with Amir Pourrazavi of Iran during the football 5-a-side gold medal match at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. (Alexandre Loureiro/Gett Images)

What's it all about?

All you see is complete darkness. But at the same time, a seriously intense, high-speed game of soccer is happening around you! And you’re playing too! Sound exciting? Then you’ll love football 5-a-side, also known as blind football.

How it's played

Things to watch for

football players attempt to get the ball into the net as they listen to their guide standing behind the net
As Brazil and Iran compete, a guide stands behind the net to help players know where the goal and other players are located at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. (Alexandre Loureiro/Getty Images)
  • Stands behind the opponent's goal and acts as the players’ eyes to help give them instructions on where the goal and other players are located. 
  • They will yell things like "two metres, one defence right.”
a player kicks the ball towards the net as the goalkeeper stretches out his arm and leg to block it
China's Li Xiaoqiang scores a penalty past Britain's Lewis Skyers at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. (Ben Stansall/Getty Images)
  • Must be able to see or at least be partially sighted, that way they can also give instructions to their teammates. 
  • Are not allowed to touch the ball outside of the goal area and if they do, the other team is allowed to take a penalty kick.
two players wearing blindfolds kick the ball near the high side walls
Jefinho of Brazil runs with the ball near the one-metre wall during the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. (Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images)
Side walls
  • The 5-a-side pitch has one-metre high side walls around the outside so that the ball stays in play. 
  • This makes the game move at a fast pace and keeps things exciting!