Geography - Blind football

22nd June 2012 at 01:00
Could you win gold by using your geographical skills?

Football is a global game and teachers have long used the World Cup and Premiership football to teach pupils about other countries and cultures.

But the Paralympic Games also present a fantastic opportunity to teach geographical skills through "blind football". The game relies on teamwork and quick commentary to direct the players on the pitch. And this can be translated into school lessons where children can play blind football-inspired games to develop geographical skills, collaboration, communication and learning from others.

Draw a large compass in chalk in the middle of the "football pitch" (in the playground, say). Stretch the north, south, east and west lines out and mark metre points along them in gridlines. You can start with a warm-up: a rapid-fire game of Simon Says in which children have to jump around to face different compass points. Can they do this with their eyes shut?

Children can start without a ball, giving distance and compass point directions to move other children around. Can two opposing teams be directed to swap over without bumping into each other? This is great practice for learning compass points when sighted, and is a test of trust and cooperation if you monitor pairs working with one of them blindfolded. There are countless variations and developments on the exercise, such as playing catch based on calling out distances and direction.

These exercises are a great way to teach geographical skills, but they provide an additional and vital message. Showing Paralympic events in the classroom can demonstrate that people are not defined by a disability but by the skills and positive attitude they develop to lead fulfilling lives.

Stephen Pickering is a senior lecturer at the University of Worcester and a consultant with the Geographical Association. A full version of this article, co-written with David Mycock, currently coaching the GB Paralympic football team, and Will Norman, a member of the team, is available through the Geographical Association; the Paralympic Games 2012 run from 29 August to 9 September

What else?

Check out donners67's festival plan and organise your own Paralympic sports championship.

Revise compass points and bearings with Clea Rodgers' bingo starter.

In the forums

One teacher is seeking ideas for Olympics-themed geography workshops. Can you help?

Find all links and resources at

1900 Olympics, Paris

Live pigeons were used in the shooting event. Belgian Leon de Lunden won gold when he shot 21 of them*.

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