Team prepares for Deaflympics

from Pensacola new journal

The journey of the U.S. Women's National Deaf Soccer team toward the Deaflympics in Taiwan this year is passing through Northwest Florida.

Ken McDonald, a coach in the Bayside Soccer Program in Gulf Breeze, was recently named head coach of the team. He was an assistant for the team in 2003.

Shortly after the team won the 2005 gold medal in the Deaflympics in Australia, McDonald resigned to take over as head coach of the men's Deaf Soccer team.

The women's team recently had a training session in Pensacola. Part of the preparation is that each player must raise $5,000.

"We don't have a company or organization helping us out financially," McDonald said. "That puts tremendous pressure on each player."

The men's team finished ninth out of 10 teams in Australia. But last year, McDonald led them to the semifinals of the first World Deaf Cup in Patras, Greece, where they lost on penalty kicks.

Reaching the semifinals was a huge accomplishment, McDonald said, considering that other teams received $100,000 from their countries and foundations.

Recently, the USA Deaf Soccer Association asked him to take charge of the women's team.

"Other countries pay for the cost of their deaf players," McDonald said. "It's a shame that it doesn't happen here. They are a great bunch of soccer players and they deserve all the support they can get."

McDonald said the men's team will be in the Pensacola area Feb. 26 through March 1 for a tryout camp.