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Added 27th April 2017, 13:06 in

SUPPORTING THE GAME: GB Deaf Women's Team

Jess Cully talks about the team, how they are funded, how good they are to watch and his sponsorship of left back, Sarah Page...
England's Lionesses aren't Britain's only current World Cup bronze medallists. The GB Deaf Women's Football Team came third at last year's Deaf World Cup, qualifying them for the Deaflympics to be held in Turkey this July. But the GB Deaf teams receive no government or FA funding, so their trip to the Deaflympics was dependent on raising £100,000 from public donations. Generous donors this year included Gary Neville and various football clubs who donated signed shirts for auction.
 
One source of revenue for the teams is player sponsorship, available in three levels for every player, Gold, Silver and Bronze. I am proud to be the Gold sponsor of left-back Sarah Page. Gold sponsors were invited to meet and greet their chosen players at the team's friendly against the Royal Logistics Corps at Prince William Barracks, Grantham on April 8th.
 
Before the game I talked to Gemma Newson, until recently the team's goalkeeper, now team media manager and photographer. The fundraising appeal was a few thousand short of the target with a week to go until the deadline. Gemma said that she was confident that the goal would be reached as there was work going on behind the scenes. She observed that in all of their last three major tournaments, the 2013 Deaflympics, 2015 Euros and 2016 World Cup, the team have ended up facing Poland in the third-place play-off, winning two and losing one.
 
Most of the squad are completely deaf; a couple have partial hearing. They range from some able to communicate entirely in speech, through a number who use a mixture of speech and sign language, to a few who exclusively sign. As the Deaf Women were playing a hearing team, the referee used both a whistle and a hi-vis flag. The game's only other difference from the usual principles was that it was played as three periods of 30 minutes, with unlimited rolling substitutions and the teams changing ends for each new period.
 
I watched the game at pitchside with physio Andy Toal, who said that he thought that at the World Cup GB had been better than their semi-final conquerors, runners-up Russia. With world champions USA not entering the upcoming Deaflympics, Andy believed GB would be strong medal contenders.
 
Jess with Sarah

Sarah played the first period, and came back on ten minutes into the third. To my delight, she played well with some good tackles and close marking. The Royal Logistics Corps, however, took the lead in the first period and doubled it early in the third. On 75 minutes GB Deaf's Premi Pushpalingham was put clean through on goal and fired home with a low shot, but it proved to be only a consolation as both sides attacked several times in the closing minutes but neither was able to find the net.
 
Happily, the following weekend it was announced that GB Deaf Football's fundraising campaign had reached its £100,000 target. Donations, however, are always welcome at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/TeamGBDF
 
We wish the GB Women the best of luck in Turkey!

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