Sports: Neville donates money to Deaflympics football teams

Gary Neville at a briefing on property projects in Manchester when he was in Singapore on Oct 26, 2016.
Gary Neville at a briefing on property projects in Manchester when he was in Singapore on Oct 26, 2016.ST PHOTO: NIVASH JOYVIN

LONDON (AFP) - Former England international defender Gary Neville's donation of £20,000 (S$34,000) on Wednesday (Nov 2) raised hopes Britain's men's and women's deaf football teams will be able to compete at next year's Deaflympics.

The 41-year-old's generosity - which came after a tweet by women's captain Claire Stancliffe - will allow the teams' to cover the deposits for next July's competition in Turkey, which is the biggest multi-sport event for deaf athletes.

Nevertheless they are still confronted with the challenge of raising just over £100,000 - deaf sport does not receive any money from UK Sport - for pre-event training camps and the travel costs to get to Turkey.

"You don't know how much this means to me and the team," tweeted Stancliffe.

Neville's contribution is not the first time professional footballers have helped out their deaf colleagues.

Funds from a foundation founded by former England international James Milner, Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland and England women's internationals Fran Kirby and Lucy Bronze helped the teams to compete at this year's World Cup.

Stancliffe and her team-mates took bronze whilst the men finished seventh.

To be cleared to play not only must players meet a certain criteria for loss of hearing but no hearing aids are permitted on the pitch.

Stancliffe told the BBC she had thought of retiring on occasions as the combination of playing and also having to continually go round begging for donations was wearying.

"For the last nine years since I made my international debut, I've had to fundraise every year just to represent my country, let alone pay for all the training I have to do," she said.

"It does get tiring and sometimes you do feel like just giving up."