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Deaf Sports: Soccer
Also see: "Deaf Sports"

Greg Lynch

Soccer in the Deaf Community

The first deaf soccer team is dates back to 1871 -- the Glasgow DFC (Atherton, 2001). An important aspect of soccer or any sport is that it supplies intrinsic satisfaction and a social link to society. Soccer has a strong cultural heritage with ties to Europe and elsewhere. Soccer is a good way for the deaf community to travel and stay in contact with each other. It is also a means of making friends and sharing experiences.

There exists soccer clubs that are strictly for the deaf community --of which the only criteria to be a member is that you must be deaf. "To be normal in a deaf sport, a person has to be deaf," (Atherton, 2001). This allows a sense of belonging for the deaf community members. Deaf people prefer to use a flag which is visual and not a whistle (Druchen, 2007). Deaf soccer teams do not always play against other deaf soccer teams. They do play Hearing teams as well. Playing Hearing teams can have disadvantages with the inability to hear the coaches or the referees. For deaf soccer leagues they have certain criteria, which is outlined by U.S. Deaf Soccer Association. "Under international criteria, to be eligible to compete in deaf soccer competitions, players must have an average hearing loss of 55 Decibels or more in the best ear. All players competing in deaf matches must remove all hearing aids before playing which creates another obstacle to overcome, balance is another important advantage for a Hearing player,"(Noll,2008).  Hearing is linked to maintaining balance and is an important aspect of soccer because it is such a dynamically active sport.

For the deaf that play on hearing teams, communication is an obstacle for the deaf person. Communication is a vital part of socializing and with this absent, the feeling of being excluded is indeed strong. A way to overcome this barrier is to teach teammates simple signs that can ease communicating on the field. Learning the sign language alphabet is a good way to start. As a coach making a deaf player feel a sense of belonging is challenging, but learning basic sign language could be beneficial to you and the player. An interpreter would also be a good idea to consider.

The deaf have their own world cup and this year it is located in Patras, Greece from July 1-12 (Noll, 2008). This allows for deaf people to be on a level playing ground. There are several advantages for hearing people over deaf people when it comes to soccer. When deciding whether to play soccer on a hearing team or a pure deaf team these advantages must be considered. All-deaf teams allow for more communication amongst players than otherwise.

1.) Atherton, Martin; Turner, Graham; Russel, David.(2001) Soccer & Society. More than a match. The role of football in Britain's deaf community. Volume 2, Issue 3. pg 22-43

2.)Noll, Ken (2008) Deafness in soccer. USA Deaf Soccer.

3.) Druchen, Bruno (2007 July,7.) Deaf federation of South Africa. Deaf Culture.


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