Chris Playing his Part in Developing Country's Top Deaf Footballers

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Growing up profoundly deaf, Chris Price found his opportunities in sports participation limited.

Now though, as a third year Sports Development and Coaching student, Chris is using his experience as a deaf athlete, and the skills and knowledge he has picked up during his time at the University of Worcester, to ensure that other people in a similar situation are able to participate and enjoy sports to the full.

During the second year of his studies, he worked with several members of University staff and representatives from Deaf Direct and UK Deaf Sport to set up a club that would benefit local deaf children; getting them into sport and changing the perception that having a disability affects your ability.

Chris explains: “I was diagnosed as profoundly deaf at the age of three, which means I have a very low level of hearing. I participated in sport for over ten years but there were various issues, as my hearing aids would break or cause a problem for others.

“Having played football with able-bodied players, I was aware of the lack of opportunities growing up and I knew first-hand what young children with a hearing impairment were going through. I wanted to create something that would give young deaf children the chance to socialise with those with similar issues, as well as offering parents the opportunity to meet up and gain advice, with a role model there to show how disability doesn’t mean a lack of ability.”

After setting up the ‘Once a Month’ club for deaf children, Chris became aware of a coaching opportunity with Great Britain’s deaf women’s football team, who were looking for someone with both the coaching knowledge and the desire to be able to make a real difference for the country’s best deaf players.

He continues: “The national team are self-funded, and do not get any money from the Football Association. Representing your country is an honour and a privilege, but these players grow up in a society where they are almost shut off from able-bodied people, and that lack of recognition for what they do is shown in their motivation to play.

“What they wanted was a coach with the right qualifications, but also the motivation and desire to change perceptions and convince these girls that representing their country meant something.”

Chris is now firmly established as part of the Great Britain coaching team as they aim to develop the squad and prepare them for next year’s European Championships, which will be held in Hannover, Germany.

“I’m so excited about the tournament because it’s such a rare opportunity,” he enthuses. “I’m keen to make the most of it and learn as much as I can. I trust in myself and the team around me, and a lot of that confidence comes from staff at the University, who have offered their experience and advice to me.”

The University is a renowned centre of excellence for disability sport, and boasts a number of elite level disability coaches, including Rebecca Foster, who has coached Great Britain’s deaf track and field athletes for the last three Deaflympics events.

Chris believes that the specialist knowledge and support given to him during his time at the University has been invaluable in his development as a coach.

“The University has been phenomenal in both recognising my needs and working with me to ensure they are best prepared to help me in any way they can.

“I’ve learnt a lot from my lecturers around how to be effective when coaching various types of athletes and how to adapt my sessions to get the best out of the players. I’ve also met with them outside of lectures to discuss their experiences of coaching and tournament preparations, which I use when I’m away with the Great Britain team.

“I am inspired by how far I can go when I really push myself beyond what I feel is possible for someone like me.”