Video of deafblind football fan inspires people to think about sport and inclusivity

Two men touching hands over a green painted board.

World cup fever is upon us! It’s all over the TV, radio, social media, and is the topic of many of our conversations at the moment.

In amongst all the hype, one video in particular went viral over the weekend, just as Deafblind Awareness Week kicked off. The video shows football fan Carlos and his friends celebrating a goal in Brazil’s game against Costa Rica on Friday. What’s different about this video is that Carlos is deafblind and is experiencing the football through touch.

In the video, Carlos’ friends are guiding his hands around a tactile model football pitch so that he knows where the ball is. This is supplemented by additional usage of sign language, which Carlos feels with his hands, and his other friend communicating the excitement by tapping his shoulders. When footballer Coutinho finally gets the ball in the net, all three friends celebrate together; cheering, clapping and banging a drum.

Watch the embedded video below, or view it on YouTube.

This video to me is exactly what sport is all about – it’s more than just watching your favourite team, it’s a shared social experience; the excitement, the tension, the emotions (and sometimes the disappointment!). It’s not just a case of watching it, but the smells, the sounds and the feelings that go with it. Carlos and his friends have found a way that they can share this together.

Making sport inclusive and accessible

A man holding the hand of a younger man as they kick a ball on a grass pitch

At Sense, we believe sport is an important part of life. It’s an opportunity to connect socially, a way of learning new skills, and a chance to explore new ways to get active. Through our national Sporting Sense programme, we’re increasing opportunities for disabled people to access sport by training sports coaches and providing accessible sports sessions.

Making sport accessible can be as simple as using a bigger ball for football, or finding ways to explain yoga moves that doesn’t rely on being able to see the instructor.

Sense has even been involved in the development of a whole new sport called Wallball. It’s all about understanding the person, how they can communicate and how to adapt the activity to meet their needs.

As well as adapting physical activities, we’re also exploring the sensory elements of sport and developing immersive sports experiences for people with complex needs. These sessions, personalised to the individual, bring out the sensory elements of sport. For example, a sensory football session might include using touch, smell and sound; feeling some grass, putting on some football socks and using tactile cues to celebrate a goal – just like Carlos and his friends.

So, the next time you’re watching a football match this World Cup, think about all of the ways you’re experiencing it. The sights, the sounds, the smells and the emotions – it’s more than just a game!

Visit the Sense website to find out more about how Sense helps people with complex disabilities access sport.

Author: Sarah White

Sarah White is the Head of Public Policy and Campaigns at Sense.

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