The International Federation of CP football is developing its evidence-based classification system, and currently in consultation with its CP Football family.
Samantha April Cammidge has just completed her PhD titled “Consulting the Sport Community for the Development of an Evidence-Based Classification System in Cerebral Palsy Football” at the Miguel Hernández University in Elche, Spain.
The research was designed and conducted as part of IFCPF being proactive to the changes necessary of an evolving classification system, and IFCPF hope that this research will help move the classification system in a positive direction.
Her research consisted of interviewing 53 people within the sport; this included two players from each team, Head Coaches, IFCPF classifiers and IFCPF stakeholders. Alongside this, 165 surveys were completed by players that participated at the 2015 IFCPF CP Football World Championships, which were hosted at St. George’s Park, England.
The interviews completed were unique based on which role the interviewee has in the sport. Overall, the questions were focused on what changes those within CP Football would like to see. Similarly, the questionnaire was a slightly more basic form of this, but the aim was still to find out what changes players, head coaches, classifiers and stakeholders would like to see.
For Para-sports, such as CP Football, the classification rules are crucial in making sure there is a correct system in which fair play is ensured at major sporting events, such as the Paralympics. This study is part of a series of action in order to compliance with the 2015 Athletes Classification Code of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).
This study found that there is a need for change within the classification system in CP Football, including: a reduction in the number of classes, a new Minimal Impairment Criteria to be increasingly more rigorous, additional observation during training sessions by classifiers when having to give a class to a player, among others.
For the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) there are 3 steps of classification:
- Does the athlete have an eligible impairment for this sport?
- Does the athlete’s eligible impairment meet the minimum impairment criteria of the sport?
- Which sport class describes the athlete’s activity limitation most accurately?
If an athlete’s impairment and activity liitation answers these questions to satisfy the classification system of the sport, then the athlete becomes eligible to play.
Within CP Football, there are three types of impairments a player may have:
- Ataxia – a neurological sign and symptom that consists of a lack of co-ordination of muscle movements.
- Hypertonia – a condition marked by an abnormal increase in muscle tension and reduced ability of a muscle to stretch.
- Athetosis – is generally characterised by unbalanced, involuntary movements due to constant changes in muscle tone and a difficulty maintaining a symmetrical posture.
Through the classification system, it helps minimize the impact of impairments on sport performance and ensures the success of an athlete is determined by skill, fitness, power, endurance, tactical ability and mental focus.
Actually, within competitions, this includes 4 classes, FT5, FT6, FT7 and FT8. For each team, made up of 7 players, there has to be at least 2 FT5 and FT6 players on the field at all times and there cannot be more than one FT8 player on the field at any given time.
With Samantha’s findings, could this classification system change, and if so, in what way? So, IFCPF is conducting a consultation with its members to provide feedback on the new CP Football Classification Rules, being effective on 1st January 2018.