Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville recently donated £20,000 to help the Great Britain’s men’s and women’s deaf football teams secure their place at next year’s Deaflympics.
The teams needed to raise the money by the end of October as deposits for next July’s competition in Turkey, which is the biggest multi-sport event for deaf athletes.
However, they still need to raise a further £105,000 to cover the cost of travelling to the event and training camps.
“You don’t know how much this means to me and the team,” tweeted GB women’s captain Claire Stancliffe, who has been helping to lead the fundraising effort.
Neville’s donation had come in response to a tweet from Stancliffe.
Deaf sport does not receive funding from UK Sport and in order to participate in this year’s Deaf World Cup, where the women’s team won bronze and the men were seventh, donations from the likes of Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland, England women’s players Fran Kirby and Lucy Bronze and the foundation run by Liverpool’s James Milner helped the GB squads reach their fundraising target.
Under international criteria, to be eligible to compete in deaf football competitions, players must have an average hearing loss of 55 db or more in their best ear. In addition, all players must remove all hearing aids before competing, which can affect balance.
The last Deaflympics in 2013 in Sofia, Bulgaria, featured more than 2,700 athletes from 83 nations competing in 16 sports with Great Britain winning five medals, including a bronze for the women’s footballers.