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Opinion: What 7-a-side football needs to do to get back on the 2024 Paralympic program

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This was originally published on Quora on May 16 as Laura Hale’s answer to What does cerebral palsy football need to do to get back on the Paralympic program for 2024 Games?.

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So the first round of applications for inclusion on the 2024 Program starts in November 2017, with international sport federations needing to have their applications in by this date. CP football largely got cut from the Paralympic program for 2020 because of a lack of participation. Otherwise, they did not appear to have many problems with their sport’s governance structure that other sports competing for spots on the program had.

That’s why CP football should probably be focused on: Developing a sustainable program for CP football that increases participation numbers, despite having been cut. They need to increase these numbers while maintaining current membership and those countries participation internationally. They also need to do that while not letting other things go, such as classification, promotion of the sport, doping controls, etc.

I think at the moment that they are on track to do this. Their development plan is worth reading, and I think it is in the right direction. They will be implementing a new functional based classification soon to be more in line with other Paralympic sports. They brought some one in new blood on the media and communications side. They have kept in touch with their MNAs throughout the transition period. They have a doping program in place. They are thinking about and developing a plan to open the sport to women. They are continuing to try to develop relationships inside FIFA, UEFA and with other disability football variants. The latter is being done via a working group. Their split from CPSIRA was based on getting football experts in governance to govern football, and it was amicable. The two organizations continue to have a good working relationship.

Most importantly, the IFCPF appears to have an actual development plan to expand participation. This plan hinges on developing the sport in Africa and Asia. They’ve done training sessions to try to start developing the sport in three different African countries this past year. I believe they are also doing things in Asia. This needs to continue, and these countries need to get national leagues set up and have them establish national teams.

In the short term, to try to get the number of countries participating up before that November 2017 submission. They need 20 active teams at least. They need to stop separately ranking Northern Ireland, Scotland and England, and instead have a Great Britain team ranked. They should try to cobble together another Asian championship in early 2017, getting teams that competed at the 2014 Para Asian Games and the 2015 ASEAN Para Games. I believe that is 7 countries if they can get Iran, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar to all participate. Maybe see if South Korea or Japan can be incentivized to pick up most of the tab for hosting that, getting money related to hosting the 2018 Winter Paralympics.

The CP Football World Championships Qualification Tournament is coming up later this year, with 16 teams scheduled to participate. These include Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ghana, India, Japan, South Korea, Northern Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Venezuela. This is good because some of these have not been active. Add them together with the 8 teams competing in the Paralympics and you have 21 teams. 20 is the floor. I’d work with these teams to make sure they have friendlies if they can get them ahead of this tournament. See if Ghana or India can’t travel to Germany before the tournament and play against Spain or Germany.

At the present, no African teams are ranked. They’ve got one team scheduled to participate in the CP Football World Championships Qualification Tournament. I’d try to throw together an African championship in early 2017. Most of IFCPF’s development has been in countries like Ghana, Sierra Leone, South Africa and I believe Nigeria. I’d try for South Africa to host a development tournament, or try some place radical like Algeria. That country hosted the IBSA African Goalball Tournament, and was very successful at it. They appear nationally to have the will to support Paralympic sport, to develop it and develop it regionally. It could be a nice option if they have Algerian contacts, and that could probably assist in getting them other North African regional participants.

Otherwise, I think they need to continue to do what they are doing. I think they are positioning themselves well that way.

Laura Hale
About Laura Hale (2527 Articles)
Laura Hale is a sport journalist, specializing in Paralympic and disability sport news. Prior to helping found ParaSport-News, she spent two and a half years working as a journalist on Wikinews, a citizen journalism site. As a journalist, she has covered the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London, the 2013 IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships in La Molina, the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi, and a number of other sporting events. She has additional experience with Paralympic sport having worked as a Wikipedian in Residence for the Australian and Spanish Paralympic Committees.

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