Deaf Sports Events18th January 2015

St John's Take British Deaf Futsal Cup by the Scruff of the Neck

Competing for the British Deaf Futsal Cup, St John's A beat Doncaster to take the spoils.

by Simon Deacy OBE

On a cold and icy Winter’s morning yesterday, the Cardiff City House of Sport was the venue for the British Deaf Futsal Cup, a competition attracting teams from all of the UK. At a fantastic purpose build venue at the side of the Cardiff City Stadium, excitement was evident as teams arrived and eagerly awaited the opportunity to warm up before the scheduled 10am start.

In addition to the men’s competition, in which 10 teams were entered, it was also pleasing to see two ladies teams in attendance, the young and vibrant Birmingham Ladies side, bouncing energetically through the door to announce their arrival.

Split into 2 groups for the first round of the competition, the top 2 teams from each league would enter the semi-finals. For the ladies competition the teams from St John’s and Birmingham would play off for the title of British Deaf Futsal Champions.

In true Deaf sports tradition, players greeted each other warmly as they arrived, catching up with friends they have not seen since the last football match or GB team get together. The genuine delight and warmth shown to opposing players is a pleasure to watch, with young and the not so young signing urgently as their eyes connected with someone across the room they have not seen for a while.

The extensive use of sign language by players of all ages brought the House of Sport to life in a way that could only be achieved through the involvement of deaf sports people. As a hearing outsider, it was a privilege to be welcomed so graciously by players I had met at previous deaf sports events, with each and every player I had a chat to, adopting their signing to accommodate my lame attempts to sign with them.

With one referee running late because of the snow and ice in the Welsh valleys, the competition got under way a little later that planned with two of the three Futsal pitches being used.

Group A:
St John’s B
Black Country

Group B:
St John’s A

Futsal, a 5-a-side version of football, has become hugely popular, and the GB Deaf Cup attracted many of the GB Deaf Futsal and GB Deaf Football players. Fast paced the game requires excellent and instant close control, vision and movement, lots of movement, with strikers turning defenders in a blink of the eye.

With renewed friendships off the pitch, it was a keen competitive edge that took over when the referees waved their flags to signify the start to each of the games. Urgent signed communication was evident from the outset, with coaches stamping hard on the ground to create vibrations, to attract the attentions of their players. With the country’s best players spread around the teams, international friendships became rivalries, and there was nothing held back on the field of play.

First Round Results:

Group A
St John’s B 2 – 1 Barnet
Birmingham 4 – 0 Black Country
Birmingham 1 – 2 St John’s B
Doncaster 3 – 0 Black Country
St John’s B 1 – 3 Black Country
Barnet 3 – 3 Doncaster
Doncaster 5 – 1 St John’s B
Barnet 1 – 5 Birmingham
Barnet 3 – 0 Black Country
Doncaster 5 – 1 Birmingham

Group B
Glasgow 2 – 0 Cardiff
St John’s A 2 – 2 Bristol
Glasgow 3 – 3 Bristol
St John’s A 6 – 1 Charlton
Cardiff 2 – 2 Charlton
Glasgow 0 – 4 St John’s A
Cardiff 1 – 7 St John’s A
Bristol 2 – 0 Charlton
Cardiff 1 – 3 Bristol
Glasgow 2 – 2 Charlton

Ladies Competition

St John’s 5 – 1 Birmingham (goals: St John’s – Claire Stancliffe, April Malin, Debbie Hibbett 2, Sharon Malloy for St John’s, Birmingham – Asnath Losalc)

St John’s 5 – 0 Birmingham (goals: St John’s – April Malin 2, Claire Stanicliffe, Debbie Hibbett 2)

St John’s 4 – 2 Birmingham (goals: St. John’s - April Malin 2, Claire Stancliffe, Debbie Hibbett, Birmingham – Lucy Brown, Kimberley Jones)

Winners – St John’s Ladies Deaf Football Club.
Player of the Cup – Claire Stancliffe

Fiercely contested, players from every team showed how much they wanted to do well in this competition, with the lesser known lights revelling in the opportunity to take on some of the more illustrious names in Deaf football. Players did not hold back in their challenges with many a trip or barge causing a rival to hit the ground heavily.

Highly charged, some of the experienced players stood out because of their calmness, whereas for others, boiling over into anger was their approach, with the game against St John’s B and the Back Country giving the referee more scuffles and the occasional punch than he could possibly keep a watch over. In danger of the match being abandoned, helped by some of the independent watchers, chaos was returned to order, and the match resumed.

The pulsating first round to the competition, saw the teams of St John’s A being drawn against Birmingham in one semi final and Doncaster taking on Bristol in the other.

With several of the Deaf GB stars, St John’s took control of their semi final. A brace apiece for strikers Jamie Clarke and Mario Costi, saw them beat Birmingham 6 – 0 to make their way into the final. On the other court, it was a different story, with the unbeaten Bristol and Doncaster teams closely matched, fiercely competing for their place in the final.

Matching each other blow for blow, Bristol’s highly impressive Harry Potter had tucked away three goals matching the three scored by Peter Wood, Mark Sinclair and Andy Reay for Doncaster by the time the full time whistle blew. Early in extra time, the prolific John Atkinson, pulled Doncaster into the lead, and aided by Andy Reay, the experienced pair took the time out of the game through good passing play, never allowing Bristol back into the game.

Having played extra time and after an exhausting day, it was going to be a big ask for the Doncaster team to cope with the pace and energy the St John’s A team had showed throughout the competition. However, with experience throughout and the goal scoring feats of John Atkinson, everyone watching expected this to be a closely fought contest.

A final graced with powerful and accomplished athletes, GB team-mates has been thrown against each other, although on-lookers who did not know, would have been surprised to learn that. Spicey on occasion, one challenge had England forwards Daniel Ailey and Jamie Clarke going head to head, face to face, with everyone sighing in relief when the situation was defused and the players parted on good terms.

Respectful of the abundance of talent in each team, a closely contested final in the early stages, the game would become a rout. Falling behind 4 – 1, and with time running down, Doncaster decided to substitute their goal-keeper to have 5 outfield players. The gamble did not pay off, with Jamie Clarke winning possession in his own half and expertly shooting into the vacant net, to give St. John’s A an unassailable lead. Further quick goals followed, St John’s seeming to score every time they had possession whilst Manoocheri was off the field, before Doncaster accepted their fate and brought the keeper back on to stop the scoring.

A late consolation goal from Andy Reay for Doncaster was followed shortly afterwards by the referee waving his flag to bring the game and the competition to a close, St John’s A, running out worthy and impressive winners of the British Deaf Futsal Cup.

Player of the Tournament went to Doncaster’s ever impressive John Atkinson. For St John’s, and Doncaster, getting through to the final will mean a great deal, with the teams winning entry once again into the Deaf Champions League Futsal competition next year in Spain.

Goal scorers for St John’s A – Huseyin Er 2, Jamie Clarke 2, Abdul Benameur, Kimahrie Lee 2, Darren Dunne, Davod Jarchlou

St John’s Winning Team:
Ali Er (GK)
Darren Dunne
Huseyin Er
Jamie Clarke
Oliver Monksfield
Marios Costi
Abdul Benameur
Davod Jarchlou
Hulk Kerkouki
Kimahrie Lee

SLFirst would like to thank everyone who organised, took part and helped out yesterday. We also wish the team from St John’s every success in their next competition, this year’s Deaf Champions League, which is being held in Austria in February.

To get free access to photographs from yesterday’s competition, like and support our Facebook page at: and send an email to Photographs will only be available free of charge for 7 days.

Article by Simon Deacy OBE

posted in Deaf Sport / Deaf Sports Events

18th January 2015