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Interviews

The Colourful Game | Bignall on colour blindness

Former Royals Academy graduate assists the FA to raise awareness of challenges for colour blind players

25 September 2018

The Colour Blind Awareness organisation was founded to raise awareness of colour vision deficiency (colour blindness) and aims to be the first point of reference in the UK for people seeking information on colour blindness.

And, in conjunction with the FA and in support of Colour Blindness Awareness Day earlier this month, a crew were invited to Hogwood Park to film an interview with former Royals first team player and Academy graduate, Nicholas Bignall, who himself is colour blind. 

Bignall has been back at the club assisting our Academy coaches and working with the Under-18s recently as part of a coaching degree course he is completing at Oxford Brookes University and he agreed to play a part in the FA’s video which is being created to raise awareness of the challenges faced by young players with colour blindness and then used to educate and train coaches at all levels of the modern game.

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The video, entitled ‘The Colourful Game’ is available to see now on the FA’s website and features colour blind players, coaches and other stakeholders in football explain the issues and the simple solutions which can really make a difference for those with CVD.

And Nick speaks very openly about his experiences of colour blindness. “I‘m sure there are a lot of players out there who are struggling with colour blindness and who probably fall away from the game because of nervousness or anxiety surrounding being colour blind in football,” he said.



“I started as a left winger but then I got moved to a striker when they saw I was big and strong and I could be more effective down the middle! But my most memorable game was when I made my debut and scored two goals against Burton Albion,” he continued. “But I actually got told I was colour impartial or colour blind in primary school.

“I think they did a test where they saw that browns and reds and certain greens, yellows and oranges, I had difficulty distinguishing those colours. So I had that in the back of my head when I was going into football.

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"It caused a lot of problems when I had to find a pass or when there was an oncoming player, not knowing if they were about to tackle me or if they were my teammate.

"So sometimes I would end up tackling my own teammates! As I got older, I knew I could speak out. But when I was younger I’d keep quiet and stay in the background, I tried to hide that there was a problem. The main problem is in training, every day, with the clashes of colours in bibs or kits."



Colour blindness affects one in every 12 men and it is estimated that there are approximately 2.7million colour blind people living in the UK.

A poor combination of kit colours is one of the biggest problems for sportsmen and women – and spectators – with CVD.

This includes kits that clash with each other, with a referee’s or keepers’ kits and with the pitch. And the problem is not restricted to team shirts – socks and shorts also come into the equation. A strong contrast between shorts or sock colours and shirt colours are often the only way colour blind people can tell teams apart.

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“You have to deal with the problem face to face and we do need to do something to help out young players who are in a similar situation. No matter what your issue is, you should be able to feel comfortable and at home playing football. A level playing field.

"If this had been thought about when I was younger, it would have been a smoother ride, with less anxiety in training sessions for sure which might have helped me progress. And kit colour clashes are such a simple thing to change.”

For more information on colour blindness, visit www.colourblindawareness.org.


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