Wales Deaf rugby championsPublished Date: 03 Aug 2023
Born D/deaf, I know only too well the barriers faced by people who are D/deaf, especially through sport. Our daughter was born profoundly Deaf and has herself already faced many challenging situations.
During my spare time, I am an avid sportsperson who plays international rugby for Wales Deaf. Our squad of D/deaf women recently took part in the World Deaf Rugby Sevens World Cup championships out in Cordoba, Argentina.
It was such an honour and a privilege to put on the red shirt and play in the championships. To represent my country was a dream come true. With family, work and other social commitments, training was extremely demanding – with way too many 5am starts! However, it has all paid off as both the men’s and women’s teams have come home as World Champions!
As a family, we have faced many challenging situations all caused by a lack of deaf awareness. My hope is that we have inspired the next generation of D/deaf children and to help them realise that they can achieve anything their hearing peers can and that there are no barriers when it comes to deafness in sport. Playing in the World Cup was a once in a lifetime experience for me and one that I will cherish forever. I want other D/deaf young people to experience that same feeling too.
Playing deaf rugby certainly has its challenges though. We have to remind our coaches about simple deaf awareness such as facing us (the players) when talking, ensuring they have everyone’s attention before coaching begins and repeating instructions. On the pitch, the challenges continue during play when you’re constantly trying to get each other’s attention by waving hands, shouting and signing.
A highlight of playing in the World Cup was being able to meet other deaf players from other countries. We thought we might face difficulties communicating with our different signed languages. However, due to the visual nature of a signed language, there were very few barriers.
My aim throughout the tournament was (and continues to be) to raise as much deaf awareness as possible. Deafness is an invisible disability, so it can be difficult when people make comments such as, ‘you don’t look deaf’ or ‘you don’t sound deaf’. What people don’t understand is that deafness has a huge spectrum and there are different levels of deafness ranging from mild to profound.
There is a big misconception that Deaf people only use sign language to communicate. Communication methods and preferences vary from person to person – some use only sign language, others prefer to use speech, and some Deaf people use both sign and spoken language. It’s important to remember that there is no one size fits all when it comes to deafness.
If there are any Deaf people interested in partaking in Wales Deaf rugby, they can contact: [email protected].