The National Deaf Children's Society's (NDCS) held a Deaf Friendly Football Festival at Hale End Sports Ground, Wadham Road, Walthamstow, last week. The fun filled event was held in partnership with Arsenal in the Community, the Football Foundation and St John's Arsenal Deaf FC.

The children aged between 6 and 16 years enjoyed coaching sessions and mini games and Gunnersaurus also attended the presentation ceremony to hand out awards. All sessions will be run by Arsenal Football in the Community coaches.

The football festival was part of a NDCS project designed to make football more accessible to all deaf children. Arsenal in the Community has committed to the project and over the course of the next three years, with the support of the NDCS, will be holding regular weekly coaching sessions for deaf footballers as well as providing deaf children the chance to join the St John's Arsenal Deaf FC and play in competitions.

The NDCS Deaf Friendly Football Project is being funded with the help of a £211,608 grant from the UK's largest sports charity, the Football Foundation, which invests money from its partners - the Premier League, The Football Association, Sport England and the Government - into good causes. Additional funding has come from Phonak UK and Sportsmatch.

The project will award clubs who meet the needs of deaf children with 'Deaf Friendly Accreditation'. Through the accreditation scheme clubs will be able to access deaf awareness training, information, resources, equipment and support.

The project will also actively recruit and train deaf adults to become qualified football coaches. This work will be combined with a programme of Deaf Friendly Football Festivals, the establishment of regular football opportunities, a national database of Deaf Friendly Football Clubs, tournaments and conferences to provide opportunities for deaf children and young people to participate in football at all levels.

Hayley Brown, NDCS Sports and Leisure Activities Officer says: "In the UK today there is a real lack of football opportunities available from grassroots to elite level for deaf children and young people. Deafness makes it harder for children to communicate which can be very isolating. Many deaf children and young people find it difficult to participate in football because clubs are not set up to provide good communication.  This project has the potential to revolutionise the sport at all levels for deaf children and young people."

To find out how you can get involved in the NDCS Deaf Friendly Football Project contact Rob Danson, NDCS Football Development Officer, email SMS 07966 341022 or the NDCS Events Team on 0121 2349820.

Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to as the source
4 Jun 2007