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Deaf football team is striking out

A team of Deaf footballers has gone from strength-to-strength since becoming part of Exeter City Community Trust, the partner charity of Exeter City Football Club.

Exeter City Deaf FC came under the charity’s remit around 18 months ago and now as many as 30 deaf men train weekly at Exwick Sports Hub. The group plays games in the English Deaf Development league, taking on sides such as Birmingham City and MK Dons deaf teams.

And the team has great vision for the future, with plans to develop both a dedicated deaf youth team and a female deaf team.

Dan Hewitt, para sport lead at Exeter City Community Trust, said the team had developed since becoming involved with the charity.

He added: “You can really see how the team has progressed in the last year or so. We’ve worked with them to support their coaching, and we also provide a pitch here at the sports hub, prior to this they were having to travel to Plymouth. We also provide support towards the cost of travelling to away games and, of course, those famous red and white stripes to wear.

“The group is incredibly proud to represent Exeter City and we’re equally proud of them and the work they put in to grow and develop. But it’s not just about physical activity, you can also see the huge benefits to their mental health.”

The team, who are aged 17 and over, has a number of students from the Exmouth-based Deaf Academy, including 17-year-old twins, Jay and Milan Caulfield. They recently won their first game against Welling United.

Jay said: “It has been fantastic playing for the team, we get the chance to come and train together, and the team is doing really well.

Milan added: “This has been great for all of the team. As well as helping us to be healthy in a physical way, it also is brilliant for the whole team’s mental health. The coaches are great and we’re really proud to wear the Exeter City badge and represent the team in the league.”

Jay and Milan’s mother Jacqui, who is also the group’s treasurer, said playing football was really important to her sons. She said: “We moved from Hampshire to Exeter to give the boys the opportunity to play football whilst they are at the Deaf Academy. The team has been wonderful for them, it’s just amazing to see them getting this opportunity to do what they love.”

If you would like to find out more about opportunities in deaf football, visit https://exetercct.org/courses-events/youth-deaf-teams/