The great beauty of football is how accessible it is to all people, no matter their status, ability or even, disability.
It’s often said that sport is a global language, a way for people to communicate in spite of language, nationality and social barriers.
That is certainly true for Australian Deaf Football, a group that has been brought together by two shared factors: deafness and a love for football.
This Saturday, those two factors combine when Australia’s best deaf footballers face the North Korean Deaf Football Team in an international friendly.
The game kicks-off from 8pm at the Athletic Centre at Sydney Olympic Park with tickets available at the gate for $10 (kids under 16 enter free).
It’s the first time North Korea’s deaf side has travelled outside the country to play football and demonstrates the incredible power of football in uniting the deaf population as one.
Deafness affects over 3.25 million Australians, or one in six of our population. Every day, a child is born with significant hearing impairment.
The definition of deafness varies, naturally, with some people affected very mildly, to others being unable to hear anything at all, and across the world, millions of people live with the very real struggle of hearing impairment.
Yet in spite of these challenges, deaf people have always embraced everything life has to offer and now, thanks to the hard work of Deaf Football Australia, that includes football.
The Australian Deaf Football team began in 1978 as a pathway to national representation for deaf Australians.
Traditionally, very few deaf footballers have become professional players, often because of misconceptions about their ability to communicate or listen.
The national side, therefore, provides opportunity to those in the deaf community who simply love the game to play at a high level.
In the past, the Australian national side has travelled to compete in the Asian Cup and World Cup qualifiers.
Next year, they will travel to Chinese Taipei to take part in Asian Cup qualifiers, and all funds raised from Saturday’s friendly goes towards supporting the squad in their travel.
Often, the funding for these trips has come directly out of the pockets of the players and staff, so with your help, Saturday’s friendly can help financially support these players who have already given an incredible amount in pursuit of their dreams.
Deaf Football Australia v Deaf Football North Korea will be a showcase of the extraordinary power of football.
To qualify as a deaf footballer, each player has an average hearing loss of 55 decibels or more, while hearing aids or cochlear implants cannot be worn during a match.
Furthermore, communication even between members of the squads is varied, with some fluent in Auslan (Australian sign language), and others reliant on spoken English.
Yet football is the real language here. The friendly will be an inspiring demonstration of how sport transcending barriers, and how it can foster, encourage and promote deaf people to reach their full potential.
We often speak of football as a global sport and Saturday’s international friendly between Australia and North Korea will be an extraordinary illustration of this.
The match is supported by all levels of government in Australia, with a number of international and Australian businesses as well as the Football Federation Australia also backing the special one-off event.
Australia’s best deaf footballers take on North Korea this Saturday on Sydney Olympic Park’s Athletic Centre at Homebush. Kick-off is at 8pm, with gates opening at 7pm. Tickets are $10 for adults, with kids under 16 entering free. All money goes towards supporting the development of deaf football.