Eight friendly international series of games were approved in February under the IBF Foundation Blind Football Neighbouring Countries Challenge Series (NCCS), supported by Santen grant programme. After schedule changes affecting some of the games due to the global public health situation, the first matches, featuring Russia and Iran, will finally be held later this month. The venue is Kish Olympic stadium on Kish island, Iran, and the first match will be held on May 17 at 18:00 (local time) and the second match on May 18 at 18:00 (local time).
In addition to inspections at the time of entry into Iran, thorough measures will be taken to prevent infection, such as disinfecting the match venue and lodgings and wearing masks at all times except during the matches.
The host organization, I.R Iran Paralympic Committee, is arranging on-line live streaming and the link will be announced on the IBF Foundation Facebook page when it becomes available.
The goals of the IBF Foundation Blind Football Neighbouring Countries Challenge Series, supported by Santen grant programme, are:
- to help reactivate blind football globally as we move towards a new reality following the global pandemic caused by COVID-19;
- to assist countries to overcome the financial difficulties they may face in returning to international competition;
- to present a positive image of our sport to the world and demonstrate that blind football, with proper health, hygiene and safety protocols and procedures in place, can offer a safe, virus-free environment for visually impaired athletes.
Grants of up to 10,000 US Dollars were available for projects involving air transportation, while projects involving travel by land were eligible for a grant of up to 5,000 US Dollars.