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blindfootball1Thanks to the increasing advancements in technology, which include 3D printing, many of the world’s visually impaired have been experiencing quite incredible improvements within their lives. We have seen 3D printing used to create objects which aid in allowing the blind to visualize things. We have also seen the visually impaired provided with 3D printed “touchable memories” which allow them to remember moments in their lives through feeling a 3D printed recreation of that event.

Without a doubt, the ability to quickly create objects which allow the blind to feel just about any shapes imaginable, via 3D printing technology, is quite an achievement; one which will only advance further as more and more individuals and companies experiment with what can be done using this concept.

There is sport which most people don’t even know exists, yet it is played throughout the world, and specifically is targeted toward the visually impaired. It’s called Blind Football (or Blind Soccer for those of you in the United States), and is a sport which is gaining in popularity. You might ask, “how in the world can blind people play soccer?” The answer is quite simple.

The ball is filled with ball-bearings which rattle at varying rates depending on how fast the ball is moving. It allows the blind players to determine precisely exactly where the ball is. You would be surprised by how accurately these players can easily find and kick the ball. In order to ensure that there are not any severe collissions, players yell “Voy” when they run to get the ball, allowing other players to know exactly where they are.

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As for the goalie, the ball-bearings simply do not work, so there is an assigned “caller” for each goalie. This individual has sight and trains with the goalie to tell him where the ball is, and when to react to a shot.

During game play, hearing is relied on as the primary sense in excelling at this sport. However, one player, named Ryuta Sugaya, was presented with an object that allows him and his team to conceptualize their surroundings in a whole new way. It was a 3D printed replica of the world championship venue for this year’s championship game. With it, Sugaya, the goalie for the Japanese National Team, was able to envision, through touch, how the stadium was set up. While it probably won’t provide him with any sort of advantage in preparation for game play, it does allow him to feel what those with eye-sight can see while watching him and his team play.

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“So that the overall view of the world championship venue can be grasped even by the visually impaired, a scaled model that reproduces the venue using a 3D printer has been created,” Sugaya tweeted.

The IBSA Blind Football World Championships get underway this Sunday, November 16, in Shibuya, Tokyo, with teams from around the world looking to take home the championship trophy. Teams in this year’s event include Japan, France, Paraguay, Morocco, Brazil, Turkey, China, Colombia, Spain, Argentina, South Korea, and Germany. It should be interesting to see if Sugaya and his Japanese team can take home the gold.

What do you think about the 3D printing of this stadium model, in helping Sugaya and his team prepare for this year’s event? Discuss in the 3D Printed Football Stadium forum thread on 3DPB.com.

[image source: Ryuta Sugaya]
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