Dean Humphreys is a profoundly deaf 53-year-old traffic technician for the London Borough of Hounslow. He struggles to speak, but largely communicates by lip reading or British Sign Language (BSL). He is also a former trophy-winning defender and will be hoping to guide his Great Britain men’s team to gold at the #Deaflympics in Samsun in July.

But, they do not receive any funding from the National Lottery and must raise £125,000 before flying to Turkey or face withdrawing from the second oldest multi-sport and cultural festival in the world, behind the Olympic Games.

Champions League winner

Humphreys was born with his disability and to help, was enrolled at Burwood School for the deaf, where he was taught BSL from the age of 12.

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He grew up idolising World Cup-winning defender Bobby Moore, and had trials at Southend United and Colchester United, but was unfortunate to not make the grade.

After playing with friends every two weeks in Romford and Harold Wood, Humphreys was thrusted into the unknown world of deaf #Football, earning success as a player, including winning the Euro Deaf Champions League twice, and as a coach, picking up gold at the Melbourne 2005 Deaflympic Games with Great Britain.

“Shell-shocked”

After taking six years away from the international stage, Dean has returned to the GB team and will now hope to lead them to more glory in July. It has not been easy to manage the side upon his return, with training just once a month, normally along with a match, and always at a different location. In February, they were at Brentwood, later this month they will head to Wigan, before stopping off at Peterborough, Eversham, Manchester and Reading prior to the Deaflympics.

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Getting all the team in one place is a challenge as well, with the 27 players under Humphreys’ wing hailing from cities across the Great Britain and Northern Ireland, including London, Doncaster, Manchester, Sunderland, Glasgow and Belfast. But if you think this or their disability hinders them, then you will be quite surprised, as was Bedfont & Feltham manager Aaron Morgan, who was “shell-shocked” after his side lost 7-1 to the GBDF men’s side.

GB Deaf Men vs Kevin Davies XI

However, there is one more stumbling block if they wish to compete in Turkey. They need to raise £125,000 to cover costs for accommodation, flights and training for the men’s and women’s teams, by the 16th April. This has caused sleepless nights for Humphreys, who said: “I am worried about not making the money for Turkey, because we need £24,000 to pay the final payment or we cannot go.”

They are relying heavily on the generosity of their supporters, with former Manchester United defender Gary Neville donating £20,000 for 2017, while they played a charity match against a Kevin Davies XI with 100% of the gate receipts going towards helping to send the GB team to the Deaflympics.

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Ex-Bolton Wanderers striker Davies, whose father was deaf and played for the Great Britain Deaf football team in the 1950s, was joined by other former professionals, including Titus Bramble, Neil Mellor, Danny Higginbotham and Emmerson Boyce, only narrowly beating the GBDF team 3-2.

No funding from National Lottery

The FA have also given them £40,000 for the year, but the Deaflympics squad does not receive a single penny from the National Lottery. By comparison, the para-triathlon team receiving almost £4m for its first Games last year. The GB Olympic and Paralympic teams were awarded a total of £347m for Rio 2016. Despite the many challenges and obstacles that hinder him on his journey as the #GB Deaf Football manager, Humphreys is “very proud to be GB manager and hope all of you support GB Deaflympics. It was called “silent game” but today it is more competitive all around the world.”