The University of Chichester has been chosen to lead research into a developing a sports-specific classification system for blind football.
Experts from the West Sussex institution were selected to carry out the project by the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) to allow the sport to meet the International Paralympic Committee's (IPC) classification code and international standards.
Dr Oliver Runswick, a senior lecturer in sport and exercise psychology at the University of Chichester, will lead the research alongside five experts from the fields of sports science, physiology, and optometry. He said: "We are delighted to have been selected from a number of strong applications to take the lead on this project.
"It's fantastic to be involved with a project that can have a real and positive impact on the sport. We look forward to working closely with IBSA and colleagues from IPC's visual impairment research centre to achieve this."
The IBSA received funding from the IPC for the project which will not only establish the minimum impairment criteria but provide a validated set of tests of performance suitable for future work. The research is expected to between take two to four years and will be split into three phases.
Stage one will involve consultation and surveys of athletes, coaches, and administrators from five-a-side football. The second phase will involve developing performance tests that reflect elements of football likely to be impacted by a visual impairment.
In the third and final stage researchers will simulate different type of impairments in sighted footballers to determine the minimum level of impairment for blind football. The project will involve the IPC's visual impairment research centre, the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and an expert from vision and hearing sciences at Anglia Ruskin University.
IBSA blind football chairperson Ulrich Pfisterer said: "I would like to thank Dr Runswick and the other experts for submitting a strong research proposal for this important area. It is truly a collaborative effort being carried out by some of the world's leading institutions. We are very interested to see their research unfold over the coming years to create a robust set of proposals for how classification in blind football can be improved."