Have you heard of 3D printing before?

It is basically the process of making three-dimensional solid objects from a digital file that is created via a 3D modelling program. Simply put, it is an incredible technology that can be used for all sorts of purposes. There have been many examples of how 3D printing has helped the visually impaired ‘visualise’ things.

It has been also used to a point where the technology has allowed them to remember moments in their lives by sensation, which the 3D printed restoration of that event, provides.

Now imagine the benefit of this technology in the game we love. The idea of blind people playing football is not new, at least to most of us as there had been various tournaments under the flagship of International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA).

The way the game is played between the players is using a ball filled with ball bearings, which clatter depending on the speed of the ball. It allows the players to define the location of the ball. Watching one of these games will display the accuracy with which these players control the ball.

Politeness decrees that the audience remain quiet because players need to be able to hear the ball and essentially, each other. The players shout “voy!” – meaning, “I’m here” – as they approach towards the ball, allowing others to know exactly where they are.

However, it would seem like this would be harder for the keeper. For the keeper to function, there is an assigned caller to him. This caller, in principle, is the eye of the keeper. His role is to tell him where the ball is, and when to respond to a shot.

Understanding that the hearing ability of a player is the significant factor in excelling in this sport, the Japanese have come up with an innovative way to do increase their chances of winning the current championships being held in Tokyo. The team was presented with a 3D printed replica of the stadium, which helped the team in conceptualising their environment. Of course, it would not provide any advantage in their game day arrangements; it did however, allow the team to feel what the local audience would be watching when they come to watch them play.

Undoubtedly, the ability to create objects allowing those who are visually impaired to feel them, via 3D printing, is quite an accomplishment. Hopefully, those involved in the sport can realise the potential of the technology beyond just objects for the blind, to perhaps something more?

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