Football has become a popular sport among women and deaf women are no exception. Great Britain Deaf Women was established in 2000. It was set up by Sharon Hirshman who realised that although Great Britain Deaf Men had been in existence since 1924, there was nothing for deaf female footballers. With the current trend of an increase in female football players, there was also an increase in deaf female football players. The birth of Great Britain Deaf Women was born!
The first ever Great Britain Deaf Women’s Football trials were based in Doncaster and over 50 women from all over the UK attended. The first ever Great Britain Deaf Women’s Football team was selected from these trials, a historic moment.
Initially, it was very difficult to organise international matches, as there were very few Deaf women 11 a side teams worldwide. However, we had lots of friendly matches and training weekends, so the squad continued to develop. A GB squad was selected to go to the European Futsal championships (5 a side) in 2002 in Bulgaria. We came 6th out of 8 teams, disappointing, but as it was our first international tournament, we were very pleased with how we performed.
Since then, we have come a long way, having played lots of friendly games and competed in tournaments such as the Scandinavian Deaf Cup in Oslo, Norway, in September 2003. It was vital that we did well in this tournament so we could go to the Melbourne Deaflympics in January 2005. We duly won this tournament, having beat Norway, Denmark and Sweden. We were also involved in the Umbro Tournament (hearing) in Manchester in July 2004, and we did brilliantly, however, we were gutted to get to the finals and lose on penalties!
This was an excellent preparation for the January 2005 Deaflympics in Melbourne, Australia for the very first women’s football competition in Deaflympics history. We competed against the USA, Australia, Norway, Russia and Denmark with an exhausting schedule of 7 matches in 12 days. Although we were disappointed to lose to Russia in the semi-finals on penalties, we picked the bronze medal in the 3/4th play offs with Denmark, winning 2-1 after extra time. Great Britain Deaf Women’s Football will go down in history is the first winners of a bronze medal in women’s football at the Deaflympics.
In preparation for the Deaflympics 2009, the GB squad were entered in the Umbro Cup in Manchester which proved to be a fantastic challenge against several tough hearing teams. However the squad excelled expectations and finished 1st to win the cup!
The Deaflympics 2009 took place in Taiwan where the squad stayed for 3 and half weeks. We finished 4th in the tournament. We were very disappointed with this as we lost 1-0 in the bronze medal match against Russia who are full time professional football players. As well as this we lost 2-1 to USA in the semi-final, who went on to win the gold medal. We were the only team to score against USA at the Deaflympics 2009.
After Deaflympics 2009, Chris Gwynn was appointed as the new GB Deaf Women’s Football manager and started preparations for the European Deaf Football Championships 2011 in Bulgaria. The squad finished the tournament with a bronze medal.
The squad unfortunately turned down the opportunity to attend the World Deaf Football Championships 2012 in Ankara, Turkey due to finances. The focus was put towards Deaflympics 2013 which the team have been preparing for since mid-2012. In December 2012 a partnership was formed with the charity DBA (Dream It, Believe It, Achieve It) who have been supporting every training weekend we have and provided us with several resources such as a sports scientist and physio. The squad will be meeting regularly before attending the Deaflympics 2013 which take place at the end of July in Sofia, Bulgaria.
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in coming along to training, we would love to hear from you! Details to get in touch “contact us” page.
While we may have only been established for 10 years, Great Britain Deaf Women have had an amazing record in such a short time, and we will continue to have more success and grow over the coming years.