St John’s Deaf Ladies Football Club

Week 288 (19 - 26 April 2019)

For most athletes, the ability to hear is not only part of their daily function but absolutely necessary for their sport.  However, for some, this is not an option due to deafness.

St John’s Deaf Ladies Football Club (@STJDFC) are a five-a-side team based in London, whose players are all profoundly deaf. Even though they only communicate through sign language, they have made it through to the finals of the FA People’s Cup, which take place between 27 and 28 April 2019.

Their coach, Rebecca Citreon, is not deaf but communicates with the players through sign language.

Since making it to the finals, the team and their coach have opened up about why they don’t see their deafness as a disability.

SJDLFC coach Rebecca Citreon said, “We are in the female disability category but I would say they (the players) wouldn’t term themselves as disabled, because they have got their first language of British Sign Language, or they might have chosen English and be incredible at lip reading.

“So really for us, we’re coaching deaf ladies. Not deaf, disabled ladies.”

By using sign language as their main communication tactic, SJDLFC have been able to play sport brilliantly and progress through to the finals, beating non-deaf competition along the way.

Since joining the FA People’s Cup, the team have dealt with a number of different challenges, including the rule that no amplification is allowed on the pitch, which means that no hearing aids or implants can be worn.

But even these challenges have not stopped the team from making it to the finals.

Profoundly deaf footballer and captain of SJDLFC Claire Stancliffe (@clairels1989), who was recently honoured by British Prime Minister Theresa May for her voluntary work throughout England, spoke to the BBC Get Inspired Team about being part of the club.

“We’ve played together for a long time now and we all know how each other plays. Any information from the manager that I get, I can pass it on to them.

“It’s a massive honour obviously, there’s a lot of good players in the team and anyone could be the captain.

“It’s really good that I can hopefully inspire them and show them what they can do in the future.”

Communication is a critical part of any team sport. By finding ways to ensure that communication is not lost on the pitch, SJDLFC have proved to be a great role model for all teams. For their inspirational performances and wonderful example of non-verbal communication, SJDLFC is JTA Communicator of the Week.

Photo: @STJDFC Twitter