Football health and safety
Information for football coaches and officials on how to keep a deaf child or young person safe when playing football.
Hearing aids are at risk of being broken if they fall out of the ear during activity. For this reason, some deaf footballers choose to play without their hearing aids just in case. However, others prefer to wear their hearing aids, particularly if they play in mainstream teams, so that they can communicate with teammates.
Most children can use their hearing aids when playing sport as long as they are comfortable and securely fitted. If in doubt, parents should ask for further advice from their audiologist.
It can be worth making the referee aware that there's a player wearing a hearing aid before the match begins. However, official Football Association (FA) guidelines state that it's the player’s and their parent’s choice whether they wear their hearing aids during football matches, and not the referee’s.
A cochlear implant consists of two parts: the internal part which includes the receiver and electrode, and the external part which includes the microphone, speech processor and transmitter coil.
The main risk with certain sports is suffering a blow to the head on or around the site of the internal implant which could result in device failure. Although the risk is very small, this could mean that a deaf player may need to have repeat surgery to replace their implant. Cochlear implant users should contact the manufacturer of their device for specific information or advice.
Make the referee aware that there's a player using a cochlear implant before the match begins. However, official Football Association (FA) guidelines now state that it's the player’s and their parent’s choice whether they wear the external part of their implant during matches, not the referee’s.
Children who have recently had cochlear implant surgery are advised against playing football until the operation site has fully healed (approximately 6 weeks).
The Football Association's child protection policies are designed to protect children from potential harm and also to protect the integrity of the adults who look after them. This can be a problem if, as coach of a junior team, you wish to get the attention of a deaf child who has their back to you and can't hear you calling for them.
To get the attention of a deaf young person, it's acceptable to do so by tapping them on the shoulder. You can also walk around them until they see your face. It's best to confirm the child’s preferred method beforehand.
It's always wise to make sure that any communication between a coach and players takes place in an appropriate, open environment to protect both the child and the integrity of the coach.
Be aware that deaf young people may not be able to hear fire alarms. If a fire alarm goes off, coaches and officials should follow their club fire safety policies and guidelines. Make sure any deaf players under your care are accounted for by, for example, checking the toilets and changing rooms on site.