Athletes who are deaf get help for training

Athletes who are deaf get help for training

A new non-profit organisation has been set up to raise funds to help athletes who are deaf get better training.

Formed by a group of 10 volunteers in November last year, the Deaf Sports Association (DSA) hopes to raise $50,000 by next year. Part of the money will be used to hire coaches and book training facilities for its members.

Currently, its 30 athletes train on their own in sports such as football and badminton, at least once a fortnight.

“Over the years, I have seen deaf athletes who do well while they’re young but who decide to focus on other commitments because there is no opportunity to develop their talent,” said founder Loh Eng Meng, a senior administrative executive who is deaf. Mr Muhsin Johari, who co-manages Deaf United, the football team supported by the DSA, feels having a coach will keep players more committed. The full-time assistant administrator said training sessions would be “better organised with proper schedules”.

The team has participated in both local and regional football and futsal competitions. The players train on their own – every week when there are upcoming events.

During games, flags instead of whistles are used to alert the players when a foul has been committed. Also, the referee uses sign language to communicate with the players.

Medical experts say having the right support and environment is crucial if athletes who are deaf are to do well.

“Being deaf need not hinder an athlete from achieving his goals,” said Dr Christopher Cheok, a senior consultant and head of the Psychological Medicine Department at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.

Mr Loh hopes to show people that deaf sports are very much “alive”. They know about the Olympics, he said, but not about major events for the deaf such as the Deaflympics, which is held once every four years.

Source: The Straits Times