Best Practice for Colour Blindness in Football: Case Study
To help raise greater awareness of colour blindness, also known as Colour-Vision Deficiency (CVD), within Surrey football, we spoke with Josh to understand the best practice when catering to colour-blind football players.
Statistically, in the men's/boy's game, at least one player in each squad will be colour-blind, as well as potentially someone in their coaching team. Do clubs consider this enough?
No, colour blindness has never been mentioned in any sport I play. It has always been up to me to explain to a club that I am colour-blind, what this means and how it affects me.
It could be possible that even if a player is already diagnosed with Colour-Vision Deficiency (CVD), they may not reveal this information to their club for fear of being dropped. What could clubs do to make people more comfortable disclosing this information?
Clubs should be open and embrace colour blindness as a disability, reinforcing the message that discriminating against people for any reason is wrong. When joining a club, sometimes you have to complete a form. I've seen this include questions about disability, but it never mentions colour blindness, and it could say that it's only being asked so that they can 'adjust training', etc.
Most colour blind players are undiagnosed so clubs should aim to follow the simple steps set out in the FA guidance around kits and equipment. This should create a situation where it will not be necessary for diagnosed players to reveal if they are colour blind. Clubs can also ensure they create an environment in which diagnosed players do feel confident to speak out if they want to.
What is the most acceptable language for teammates to use with each other when referring to colour blindness?
I have been lucky in that my teammates have always supported me and helped me. My teammates just refer to me as being colour-blind.
What are the best kit colour combinations for colour-blind players?
Black and White (further detail can be found in a following answer).
What are the worst kit colour combinations for colour-blind players?
There are different types of colour blindness, but for me, it is shades of purple and blue, red and orange, and green and yellow.
Kit clashes can be quite a common issue for those who are colour-blind. Would it be useful if teams carried several variations of their kit so that they could be changed depending on the circumstances? Or if teams communicated prior to a fixture to clarify if either of the team's players are colour-blind?
White vs black kits offer the best contrast but as teams can have many different kit colours between them, to ensure kit clashes are avoided one team should wear a dark kit and their opposition a light kit. All kits other than white, pale grey, pastel colours and yellow should be considered ‘dark’ kits. If teams have one dark kit and one light kit this will resolve most kit clash situations.
My club have been very supportive and purchased a white kit (our standard kit is purple). They are very aware of my disability and always check with the opposition in advance. We also have a set of coloured bibs, just in case. The important thing is that my club is aware and understands; ideally, all clubs should be the same.
What colour ball is best for those who are colour-blind, particularly on grass/ artificial pitches?
White, but the colour doesn't matter much, as I can see the movement. For people with other types/severities of CVD, single colour balls can be difficult follow. For this reason, single colour balls should be avoided except white and bright yellow. Balls with patterns should only be used where they have a majority white surface area.
Line markings may pose a challenge if they are in colours that those with colour blindness find difficult to distinguish from the playing surface, particularly when playing indoors (such as Futsal). What is the best solution to this?
When I can't see the lines, I usually ask the opponents to put down flat disks, which my club brings to all games. Again, awareness is beneficial, and the home team should check before the game starts. I have put down the disks in the past, and parents have moved them, saying that they're not allowed. I would like all clubs to be educated about colour blindness so that they can explain to other people why I put the disks down.
Refer to the FA guidance and factsheets to ensure discs can be seen against certain background colours e.g. avoid red, green and orange against grass. What should a coach do if they suspect a player may be colour-blind, but the player is unaware?
What support can they offer/ who should they refer the player to for the most appropriate support?
Talk to players about it and make them aware it's nothing to be embarrassed about. There are basic tests available on the internet and going to an optician is free for children. However, tests on the Internet can only give an indication and should not be relied upon. There is some excellent help on the Colour Blind Awareness website, which I highly recommend.
What are your experiences of being colour-blind in football?
My experiences of being colour-blind in football have mostly been positive. My club has supported me and taken the time to understand how it impacts me. I think it's essential for people with colour blindness to be open about it and tell their clubs, teammates, and coaches; it's not something that one should be embarrassed about. The more people talk about it, the more widely it will be recognised.
If you have any further questions about color blindness within Surrey football, please contact our Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) Officer Eve Roberts at Eve.Roberts@surreyfa.com. If you’re a coach and would like some further advice on colour blindness the please use The FA colour-blind fact sheet attached below: