Football & Futsal
Last month, I flew to Sofia, Bulgaria to conduct a site inspection for the upcoming World Deaf Futsal Championships. It was my first assignment for the ICSD and a whole new experience, one that I was keen to have under my belt.
The 1993 Summer Deaflympics, or World Games for the Deaf as it was called then, was held in Sofia. Sofia is also hosting the European Deaf Athletics Championships, a few months before the November World Deaf Futsal Championships.
I met some of the Sofia Deaf Futsal Club players on their way to an away fixture that I unfortunately couldn’t attend. They compete in a hearing Futsal league and about half of their Futsal players represent Bulgaria at Deaf Futsal. It was fantastic to learn about the deaf footballers competing on a par to their hearing counterparts.
It was interesting to learn that the sport Futsal is fast becoming Bulgarian’s 2nd most popular sport behind football. Being the country's capital, Sofia is also the centre of Bulgaria's sport activities, with a large number of sports clubs being based in the city, including most of Bulgaria's primary, such as Levski Sofia, CSKA Sofia, Lokomotiv Sofia and Slavia Sofia.
With over 30 venues for Futsal in the city of Sofia, the sport is fast becoming Bulgarian’s 2nd most popular sport behind football. It is estimated that if this growth in popularity in Futsal continues at this rate, it will overtake football as the number one sport in Bulgaria by 2009.
To sum up, I found the playing facilities for the 2007 World Deaf Futsal Championships to be of good standards. A final decision will be made in due course by the Bulgarian Deaf Sport Federation (BDSF) on whether the championships will use the Winter Palace of Sports Hall, CSKA Sports Hall, National Sports Academy Hall, Hristo Botev Sports Hall, Sofia Training Centre or Sofia Sports Hall.
The hotels were either of a good or excellent standard so I imagine the players and officials involved in the tournament will be satisfied with them. On a similar note, I recommended that one of the hotels should be renovated or a replacement suitable hotel must be found.
All the facilities and hotels are within an area of 8kms and between 5 - 15 minutes drive by car / coach.
The Bulgarian Deaf Sports Federation (BDSF) demonstrated an understanding of the Futsal Laws of the Game 2006 throughout the site inspection visit. The BDSF also knew about the ICSD and Deaf World Championships Regulations and demonstrated an understanding of them throughout the site inspection visit.
The fixtures of the men and woman Futsal matches will be organised by the BDSF after the final deadline (15 May 2007). This scheduled action point should be achieved by the end of June with a clear timetable of matches and venues.
The draw shall be carried out on the day before the championship starts. This will be completed in full view of all team managers and officials after an examination has been agreed between the ICSD and BDSF to ensure a fair draw.
There is no doubt in my mind that the BDSF are fully committed to deliver a quality World Deaf Championship in Futsal.
I am disappointed at being unable to attend the ICSD Congress at Salt Lake City. I would like to pass on my thanks to Tiffany and Josef for their excellent support and advice towards my site inspection at Sofia.
I also would like to thank Nikolay Bozev and Nikolay Nikolov of the Bulgarian Deaf Sports Federation for their hospitality and kindness they showed during my short visit in Sofia.
Finally I would like to wish everyone a very Happy New Year in 2007. May it be a wonderful year for World Deaf Futsal.
ICSD Technical Director - Football