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November 9, 2004

Gearing up for the Deaflympics

From: BBC Sport, UK - Nov 9, 2004

By Damaris Cooke
British Deaflympic footballer

In just under two months, the biggest sporting event on the deaf calendar gets under way when Melbourne hosts the 20th Deaflympic Games.

Competitors will come from all four corners of the world to take part in the competition, make friends and win medals - and that includes me!

I'm an attacking midfielder in the British women's football team - in the mould of Frank Lampard, so I've been told.

This is an exciting time for me and my peers because women's football is one of the new sports introduced to the Deaflympics programme in Melbourne.

Naturally, I'm looking forward to playing in the inaugural game against Brazil, who are a bit of an unknown quantity, as are the rest of the teams in the competition.

There aren't many medal favourites but the Americans are expected to do well.

With the Games drawing closer, we have recently upped our training and are now meeting up twice a month, usually for a weekend.

A basic weekend usually involves everyone meeting up on Friday evening, and the manager talking us through the next 48 hours and what she wants to do.

Saturday is the main training day, morning and afternoon, and then on Sunday we have a game against a local female team.

Finally, I return home nursing any injuries I might have acquired over a gruelling couple of days.

Knowing that Melbourne 2005 is almost upon us has really galvanised the team.

When we began preparing seriously for the Deaflympics, we needed to get games under our belt and started off playing friendlies with a squad of up to 25 players.

Over time, the squad got trimmed down and, although new players were still emerging, we settled on a squad of 18.

These same players have been together for the past year.

We took part in the Scandinavian Deaf Cup in September 2003 against Denmark, Sweden and Norway and we won all our games.

We also competed in the Manchester Umbro tournament in July 2004 - this time against hearing opponents.

We won our group and progressed through the knock-out stages to the final, where we lost on penalties.

We are grateful for the experience gained, and hope it will stand us in good stead for Melbourne, and many years to come.

As for our medal hopes, we could be in with a chance of getting on the podium, but of course this depends on us playing well and other results going our way.

When: 5-16 January 2005
Where: Melbourne
No. of athletes: 3,500+
No. of sports: 15
(GB are competing in 8 events)
First Games: 1924

4 Jan: v Brazil
6 Jan: v Denmark
8 Jan: v USA
12 Jan: v Sweden

Story from BBC SPORT:

Published: 2004/11/09 12:23:22 GMT