Disability Football

13 Lessons

Approximately 20% of the global population is living with some form of disability (WHO), with this definition covering a wide range of individuals with a diverse range of conditions (including co-morbidities). 1

Football can be an enjoyable sport for those living with disability. While many may be able to participate in mainstream football, others are able to participate in differing forms of football which are tailored to specific disabilities or pan-disability. A good example is an adaptation for those who are visually impaired or blind. This form of football is played using a ball equipped with a noise-making device to allow participants to locate the ball using sound.

There are a number of challenges involved with caring for athletes living with a disability. There is limited epidemiological data to determine injury rates in disability football and little ‘evidence’ to guide clinical decision making. 2,3 There may also be significant barriers to participation. Football however offers those with disability significant health benefits and social opportunities with peers, and creates inspiring role models through sport.

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Learning outcomes

By the end of this topic you should:

  • have an awareness of the definition of ‘disability’ and the different types of disability football;
  • know the major issues relating to each major disability with regard to sporting participation;
  • have an understanding of the medical problems which are more common in disability sport – and how these can be managed;
  • develop an approach to managing an elite athlete with a disability.


  • Read and review the written module content.
  • Review the suggested reading.
  • View, or listen to, any relevant multimedia content.
  • Complete the course quiz.


  1. UN World Health Organisation (WHO). World Report on Disability, 2011 available at: [accessed on 10 October 2015].
  2. Ahmed OH, Hussain AW, Beasley I, Dvorak J, Weiler R. Enhancing performance and sport injury prevention in disability sport: Moving forwards in the field of football. Br J Sports Med. 2015;49(9):566-567.
  3. Weiler R, Van Mechelen W, Fuller C, Verhagen E. Sports injuries sustained by athletes with disability: A systematic review. Manuscript submitted for publication.
  4. Willick SE, Webborn N, Emery C, et al. The epidemiology of injuries at the london 2012 paralympic games. Br J Sports Med. 2013;47(7):426-432.
  5. Magno e Silva MP, Morato MP, Bilzon JL, Duarte E. Sports injuries in brazilian blind footballers. Int J Sports Med. 2013;34(3):239-243.
  6. Platt LS. Medical and orthopaedic conditions in special olympics athletes. J Athl Train. 2001;36(1):74-80.
  7. Weiler R, West A, Smitham P J. A comparison of two elbow crutch designs on functional performance in elite football (soccer) players with amputation. Sports Technology. 2012;5(1-2):43-48.
  8. Fagher K, Lexell J. Sports-related injuries in athletes with disabilities. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2014;24(5):e320-31.