A FOOTBALL team for deaf players has been relishing the chance to return to football as Covid-19 restrictions continue to ease.

Carlisle Deaf FC, founded by Thomas Rhodes in 2016 as a way of opening up opportunities in football, returned to playing in the Cumberland Football Association’s Cumberland Ability Counts League last week.

Thomas, who was born profoundly deaf in both ears, said it was important to him to create a community through the team.

“Growing up as a deaf person is really challenging,” said Thomas.

“I was growing up with a hearing family, went to hearing schools and sometimes I do feel that I am the odd one out in classrooms or when it comes to social situations.

“Luckily, I have a great family, support and friends that has helped me a lot.

“This is why it’s important to have a deaf community because there are other people like myself [who] have to face these challenges and it can be draining.

“[Being] with everyone who has the same common things and has same deaf awareness helps us to build confidence and make new friends so we won’t end up feeling like we are our on own.”

Thomas said it was great to be playing with the team again, who initially found it tough when they first joined the league.

Despite the disappointment of not being able to play, lockdown has provided the team with an opportunity to develop and improve.

Thomas added: “It’s great to be back in ACL after two years –seeing everyone’s smile on their faces and enjoying their time playing on the pitch is the best thing for us as it’s a rare opportunity for a deaf team like us to be able to play a football game against any opposing team.”

“It was a tough start, but we managed to grow and we started to win more games, which is great.

“We have been preparing a lot during Covid and planning what’s next for Carlisle City Deaf FC in the future."

The club currently have one senior team but are aiming to set up a youth project eventually when Covid-19 restrictions ease further.

For more information and to follow what Carlisle Deaf FC are getting up to, visit their Facebook page or email carlislecitydeaffc@yahoo.com.