GBDF Women’s team showed their medal winning potential at the Deaf World Cup last month in Italy by winning the bronze medal in a 2-0 victory against Poland in the 3rd/4th game play off. However, it is true to say that silver or gold medal was a real possibility if certain things went our way. However, winning the bronze was a great achievement considering at the beginning of the year, the team wasn’t sure if they could make it to the tournament due to the lack of funds, but the wonderful fund raising campaign planned and organised by Claire Stancliffe & Michael Boyne, with great support from our supporters and celebrities, soon put our country in the pot for the draw. In the end, we played all the countries in a round-robin format resulting in playing 6 games in total.
Our 1st game was against Poland, whom we have developed a competitive rivalry with, in the past few years. GB twice went ahead only to be pegged back in quick successions after each goal and the final score was 2-2. Some good individual performances here but it was a case of dropping 2 points. However, the players picked themselves up for the next game against Italy to win 6-0 with Laura Wiseman scoring a wonderful hat trick. However we did start to pick up injuries and this led to a reshuffle of the team for the next game v USA, the hot favourite, 4 times Gold medal winners of the Deaflympics. In the end, USA won 4-0 which was a flattering score line as GB certainly gave the opposition a good runout but were undone by the USA relentless attacking plays.
The 4th game was against Turkey and we used this as an opportunity to rotate some of the players in the squad to allow certain players to be rested and to hand out debuts. GB soon showed their attacking flair and won 6-0 with some good individual performances. Our final table game v Russia was a ‘must-win’ game for GB to qualify for the final and we reshuffle the team to take into account the injuries and exploit the opposition. This was our 1st game played at 4pm in the sauna like conditions as all the previous games were at 6pm, a small respite from the temperatures reaching the low 30s. GB battled hard, kept a tight defence and threaten the Russian goal on a number of occasions but in the dying minutes of added time, the Russians scored the winner to win 1-0 and go into the final with the USA team. It was a massive blow but it was an absolute transformation from a year ago when GB lost 11-0 to Russia in the Euros.
There was no time to drown our sorrows as due to the scheduling by the organisers, GB were playing Poland the following day for the bronze medal at 3.30 pm in the afternoon. This time, GB did the business and learnt the lessons from the 1st game, by scoring 2 goals in the 2nd half and maintaining the concentration levels to keep a clean sheet and win 2-0, a well-deserved victory. No complaints from Chris Gwynn and his coaching assistants as this was the 6th game in 10 days, played in the heat of the afternoon. The overall winner was the USA team and now the focus is taking the 2 steps up the podium to win gold at the Deaflympics in 2017.