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Woking FC now deaf friendly

David Holmes - 31st March 2009

Woking FC and Abbey Rangers FC pledge to be deaf friendly

Two Surrey clubs officially became Deaf Friendly Football Clubs at a presentation during the Woking FC versus Cambridge United match last night. Woking FC, and Abbey Rangers FC, a local grassroots club, have shown their commitment to opening up the sport to deaf people by signing the Deaf Friendly Football Club pledge, as part of a National Deaf Children?s Society (NDCS) project.

The clubs were presented with their pledges by two young deaf footballers, Camilla and Jacob Willis from Woking, who play for nearby Fulham Deaf FC. The pledge has been developed to ensure that FA Charter Standard FootballClubs are deaf friendly and are committed to creating equal playing and coaching opportunities for deaf people. It is part of the Deaf Friendly Football Club project, a ground-breaking NDCS project designed to make football more accessible to all deaf children.

Young deaf footballer, Camilla Willis, will play for Great Britain in the Deaflympicsin Taiwan later this year. She says: ?The Deaf Friendly Football Club Project has my full support. It is a great idea, and I only wish it happened years sooner. Its good to see so many clubs, including Premier League clubs, come onboard. This means deaf kids will feel that they have every opportunity toemulate their heroes and improve their football skills.?

Hayley Jarvis, NDCS Sports and LeisureActivities Manager explains:

?We know there has been a severe lack of football opportunities available from grassroots to elite level for deaf children and young people in the UK in the past. Deafness makes it harder forchildren to communicate which can be very isolating. Many deaf children and young people find it difficult to participate in football because clubs are not set up to provide good communication.The Deaf Friendly Football Club Project is revolutionising the sport at all levels for deaf children and young people. We are delighted that Woking FC and Abbey Rangers FC have signed the pledge, and committed to giving deaf people an equal opportunity to play football.?

Resources that will be provided to clubs that sign the Pledge include the opportunity to take part in NDCS? unique Coaching Deaf Footballers course, developed with support from the Football Association, a British Sign Language for Football course, a coaching DVD, practical support and assistance from NDCS volunteers,and help in promoting any deaf friendly football activities. Thirty-fivefootball clubs have already signed the DFFC pledge and are now working with NDCS, including Arsenal, and Manchester United.

Chris Sexton, Woking FC Community Coach, says:

?Woking FC are proud to have signed the Deaf Friendly FootballClub Pledge. We are looking forward to developing our playing and coachingopportunities for deaf people in our community and ensuring we help them reachtheir full potential in the sport. We are committed to supporting deaffootballers and ensuring that the Club and its officials are Deaf Friendly.?

Graham Keable, Abbey Rangers Club Secretary,says: ?As a FA Community Charter Standard club it was important for us to be inclusive and welcome all to the club, and the club is also proud and delighted to be involved with this initiative. We are looking forward to supporting  with tdeaf players he support of the NDCS. We are also working in partnership with Woking FC to develop disability football in our area and will be aiming to set up training sessions next season.?

Oliver Selfe Senior Football Development Officer at Surrey County Football Association added: ?It has been a pleasure workingwith both Woking FC and Abbey Rangers FC and I am delighted that they have achieved the Deaf Friendly Football Club status. This achievement contributes significantly to the FA vision and the Surrey County FA four year plan by offering football opportunities for all. We look forward to continuing to support both clubs in developing their inclusion programmes.?

The NDCS Deaf Friendly Football Club Projectis being funded with the help of a ?211,608 grant from the UK?s largest sports charity, the Football Foundation, which invests money from its partners ? the Premier League, The Football Association, and the Government ? into good causes. Funding for the project has also been provided by Phonak UK and Sportsmatch.

Woking FC currently run football for all sessions at The Park School Woking every Saturday from 10.30-11.30am. If you would like to join Woking FC please contact Chris Sexton on 01483 772470 or chris.community@wokingfc.co.uk.

If you would like to join Abbey Rangers, please contact Graham Keable on 07711 042588 or graham.keable@ntlworld.com

For more information on how you, your child or your club can get involved in the Deaf Friendly Football Club project please contact NDCS Football Development Officer by email at football@ndcs.org.ukor phone: 0121 234 9820 (v/t). You can also find more details at www.ndcs.org.uk/football .

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