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Chitungwiza’s Deaf Panther FC gives hope to deaf footballers

The team took part in the 2024 Homeless World Cup trials which were held in Chitungwiza on Independence Day and two of their players made the provisional squad for the event which will take place in South Korea in September.

A Chitungwiza-based football club Deaf Panther is giving hope to talented aspiring footballers with hearing impairment who have a dream to play football at the highest level.

Established in 2023, Deaf Panther currently has 13 players and is not part of any league yet.

The team took part in the 2024 Homeless World Cup trials which were held in Chitungwiza on Independence Day and two of their players made the provisional squad for the event which will take place in South Korea in September.

Club founder Alois Tarehwa was delighted with the opportunity for his team to participate in the Homeless World Cup trials organised by Young Achievement Sports for Development (YASD).

“Participating in the 2024 Homeless World Cup trials was an incredible experience for our team. It was an opportunity for our players to possibly showcase their skills on a global stage and to connect with other talented athletes from around the world. We are proud to have been a part of it,” he told The Sports Hub.

“It is with great joy that we announce that Benaly Chagwedera and Delan Nhanga from our team were selected for the provisional Homeless World Cup team during trials. We are overjoyed at their accomplishment, which is a testament to their hard work, dedication, and talent.

“This opportunity not only acknowledges their skills but also emphasizes the sport's inclusiveness and diversity. It brings us great joy to witness them representing our club and possibly their country on the world stage,” he added.

Deaf Panther Football Club was established to provide a platform for deaf athletes to showcase their talents in football.

“Our goal is to promote inclusivity and equality in sports by breaking down barriers and providing opportunities for deaf players to compete at the highest level. We get our players through multiple channels, such as local deaf communities, social media, and word of mouth. At present, we have 13 talented individuals who are committed to representing the Deaf Panther Football Club on the field.

“And also the aim is to develop into a football club that is known and respected for our dedication, skill, and sportsmanship while we also encourage and empower deaf players worldwide to pursue their passion for football and break down barriers in the sport industry.

“We also want to create a community where deaf athletes can thrive and achieve their full potential both on and offline by creating a supportive and inclusive community,”Tarehwa said.

Tarehwa highlighted some of the challenges that they face as deaf athletes which include communication barriers on the field, such as difficulties in receiving verbal instructions from coaches or teammates.

There is limited access to information during games, such as announcements or referee calls as well as lack of awareness and understanding from others about our specific needs as deaf athletes.

Specialised coaching or training programs tailored to deaf athletes is also limited access to and there is a general social isolation and exclusion from mainstream sports activities.

The clubs is also in need of sponsorship and other requirement that can enable then to achieve their goals

“We need $120.00 to cover our registration and affiliation fee to Zimbabwe Deaf Sports Federation and funding is needed to purchase sports kits for our team, including jerseys, shorts, and socks. We also require a fully stocked First Aid kit to ensure the safety of our players during training sessions and matches.

“Financial support will help us hire qualified coaches who can provide specialized training and support to our players and we need financial assistance to cover travel expenses, tournament fees, and other costs associated with competing in other leagues and gaining more exposure,” Tarehwa said.

YASD communications officer Joe Kuseka was happy with the inclusive nature of the Chitungwiza Homeless World Cup trials.

“The trails were inclusive as such several women and girls teams tried out. A team of deaf young people Deaf Panther Football Club were also part of the festivities. Football is a tool

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