Deaf Sports Events4th March 2014

Deaf Friendly Football Festivals - North West

Trying to inspire a new generation of Deaf football players!

by Vicki Galt

Trying to inspire a new generation of Deaf football players!!

My inspiration comes from my kids. I am a mum to three children, James is profoundly deaf (13), Damian is severely deaf (10) and I have a hearing daughter Madison (6). Since James was born, I have always been involved with deaf children’s activities, either helping at or running them.

When we moved to Lancaster, in 2007, there were no deaf groups for children and so I started one and ran the group for 5 years. During that time I started football training for deaf kids (Morecambe Deaf Friendly FC) as James came home from the local football club and was having a tough time despite deaf awareness training to the coaches and kids. It really hurt me that he didn’t feel involved.

Our teams have only been able to play in the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) tournament, annually, as we have enough players for two 5-a-side teams but they cover a 4-year age bracket, (disability rules), so local mainstream teams are difficult to play against. A number of my friends run deaf groups around the Northwest and they too only play at the NDCS tournament, so I had the thought of why not make our own deaf football competition in the NW!

Consequently, I have created Deaf Friendly Football Festvals NW (DeafFFF - NW) - competitive football days for deaf kids aged 8 -16. We had an initial pilot day near Manchester in February 2013 where we had over 30 deaf kids turn up to play 4 matches each, and they loved it. In September, we were in Liverpool where we had around 25 deaf kids, and in November we were in Manchester and we had over 50 deaf players aged 8 -16 attending. Our final session was in Leyland at Lancashire FA where we had 6 teams play 3 matches each. Lancashire FA has a pan-disability player development squad and the regional Centre of Excellence for Visual and Hearing Impaired players for 12 -16 years. We had staff on hand to advise parents of possible pathways and support available locally. We were grateful for Chris Gwynn and Micheal Boyne from GB Deaf Women’s football who came along as deaf role models. Chris Gwynn also talked to some of the players and their families about attending trials for GB women’s football in March 2014!!

We start with a warm up session so the players get mixing and communicating to each other. Then they play matches. We have had deaf kids from groups around the North West and as far afield as Bradford, Sunderland and Leeds enquiring if they can attend. It isn’t just teams that can enter. We have had individuals come along and we put them into teams and they enjoy themselves too. One family had even driven from Newcastle to Preston just to play football with other deaf players, showing the demand and interest is there. Girls can play in the U12’s and U16’s as we have had special dispensation from the FA as part of a pilot study regarding mixed football.

The four sessions were run with no funding at all, just a large amount of help and support from a number of disability officers offering their venues to help with the initial sessions. I am now receiving some sponsorship towards funding 7 sessions next season (one a month), around the North West so that people from different areas can access at least one session, if travel is an issue. I am also talking to a number of deaf individuals that may be able to come along as deaf role models and inspire the next generation of young deaf players including GB deaf football and England Deaf Futsal.

If you know of a group that would be interested in playing at one of these events or would like more information about our deaf football, sponsoring a session, or being involved on the committee please contact me via Email:
Twitter: @Deafffnw
Text: 07443 498128
Telephone: 01524 793248

For further information about deaf football for youngsters in the North West go to:

Article by Vicki Galt

posted in Deaf Sport / Deaf Sports Events

4th March 2014