Australia ready for Deaf World Cup


How would a coach communicate instructions from the sideline to change things on the pitch?
If players sign to each other instead how do goalkeepers communicate to their team mates when they are wearing goalkeeping gloves?
These are all issues most football players in Australia never consider, but if you are deaf they are issues that face you in each match. Fortunately they can be overcome so the deaf community, such an important community in Australia can enjoy the world game just like anybody else.
Football in this country has undergone a revolution in all parts of the game.
The game for the deaf community has seen the same kind of change as they rebuild, seeking to reclaim the success of the 1980s.
Recently a national camp was held as a selection trial for the national deaf side.
Run by national coach Danny Aboud, the camp was held at Valentine Park Parklea as preparations continued for the upcoming Deaf World Cup, a competition Australia has qualified in for the first time.
The Australian national deaf side first played a match in 1980 under former deaf diving world champion Barry Knapman.
The first match was against Mexico at St George Stadium in front of a bumper crowd of 38 000. Unfortunately the team was beaten 12-0. However things improved from there and between 1982 and 1988 the Australian deaf side was ranked third in the world.
Since then the side has slipped in the rankings and they are now in the rebuilding stage, having appointed Danny Aboud national coach and Alex Tobin ambassador, with the likes of Abbas Saad also helping out. Like the national team the side have to qualify through Asia to make it to the World Cup.
Aboud held the selection camp to look at about 20 of his options for the national team. He will also be looking at more prospects at the Southern Cross Championships in Brisbane.
One of the difficulties in building a national team is a lack of financial support leading to players being unable to make the trips down to Sydney for the training camps and meaning selected players mainly come from the east coast (NSW, Qld, Vic and the ACT.) It also means the side does not play regularly together.
The good news on this front is the recent formation of a deaf team out of Baulkham Hills in the Granville first division competition, meaning Sydney based players can now play together week in and week out.
The Deaf World Cup is in Greece this year from the 2nd to the 14th of July with the team doing a pre-competition camp in Patra from the 24th of June.
There are 18 teams in the Deaf World Cup with the Australians to know whom they are drawn against by mid March.
After they return from the World Cup they then have a competition in Taipei from the 3rd to the 10th of September, which is the qualification route for the 2009 Deaf Olympics (something the female Australian deaf side has already qualified for.)
The Australians must come first in a competition that includes China, Japan, Uzbekistan, Thailand and Japan as well as the Aussies.
The side played in the last Deaf Olympics in Melbourne in 2005 and in their last match of that competition they were actually leading Greece 1-0 at half time before going down 1-3.
Danny Aboud is very positive about the future for his team, ?We are in a rebuilding stage but I am very excited about coaching this side. It is a challenge as many of the veterans have moved on so the e boys are very young.
?My aims this year are to put together a good team for the future and give them a learning experience that will help us in the medium term.
?Putting a deaf team into a competition like the one at Granville will allow player development at a faster rate.
?The deaf football association has recently rewritten its constitution and contracts and is looking to affiliate with the local state football bodies.
?So it is a new dawn for all of those involved in deaf football. In the longer term I am aiming for us to have much more depth and experience for the following Deaf World Cup.
?For this upcoming competition if we can compete and have a look at what is required we will come back with a greater picture of the world game and be better prepared for next time.?
The women?s side is seeking financial support as it brings together players from around the country, many from SA and WA.
The men?s side need the same as they play so much football this year.
On June 21 there will be a fundraiser at Club Marconi aimed at gaining more corporate support.
For now deaf football is looking to the future under the leadership of President Michael Katzakis, treasurer Martin Ramadan, and secretary (and former NSL linesman) Brian Seymour, and their experienced coaching team led by Danny Aboud.
 -By Stuart Jones