Medibank Community Fund

Melbourne builds Australia’s first soccer pitch for the blind

The City of Melbourne today unveiled Australia’s first blind soccer pitch as part of a $1.5 million redevelopment of the North Melbourne Recreation Reserve.

The exciting new facility will be capable of holding B1 international level soccer competitions, an internationally recognised Paralympic sport.
Acting Lord Mayor Arron Wood said a heartfelt letter from the President of Blind Sports and Recreation Victoria, Maurice Gleeson OAM, convinced the City of Melbourne to fund the blind soccer pitch.

“Mr Gleeson wrote to Council in July last year to articulate his case for a blind soccer facility to better cater for the city’s blind and vision impaired community,” the Acting Lord Mayor said.

“We want our city to be accessible, inclusive and engaging while promoting health and participation for people of all ages and abilities so this proposal struck a chord with us and led to this exciting announcement.

“Blind soccer is played outdoors with two vision impaired teams of five players. An audible ball is used, which makes a rattling noise to allow players to locate it by sound. Outfield players wear eye-shades to equal their sight, but the goalkeeper can be fully or partially sighted.”
People City Portfolio Chair Councillor Beverley Pinder said the pitch was an important step in making sure Melbourne’s sports facilities are accessible to everyone.
“This new pitch is a meaningful way we can provide access to people who are visually impaired,” Cr Pinder said.
“It is also another way the City of Melbourne is meeting the growing community demand for sport facilities.
“With our city on track to reach a population of eight million by 2050, it is vital we continue to look at new ways to maximise community access to sporting facilities.”
Mr Gleeson said he was delighted blind soccer will soon get underway in North Melbourne.
“On behalf of Blind Sport and Recreation Victoria we would like to thank Melbourne City Council for recognising the importance of providing a facility for the visually impaired,” Mr Gleeson said.
“We are making real progress, and I hope this pitch will provide a template for other Councils to follow.”
The multi-purpose sports pitch will also provide for basketball, futsal and netball and has been built alongside a new community picnic area and public exercise equipment.

Article courtesy of City of Melbourne

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