Britain’s most underfunded Olympians are hoping that support from Premier League stars like Jack Butland and James Milner will get them to the Games.
The Stoke keeper and the Liverpool midfielder’s intervention was crucial in taking the men and women’s team to this summer’s Deaf World Cup in Italy, where they finished third.
However, if the teams, who receive no funding from UK Sport, are to make the Deaflympics in Turkey next summer, they need to raise £20,000 in less than three months. The Deaflympics is the oldest disability sports competition in the world, predating the Paralympics by 36 years. The first was held in Paris in 1924 and the next Games will be held in Samsun on Turkey’s Black Sea coast next summer.
However, unless Claire Stancliffe, the captain of the women’s team, can repeat her fundraising heroics that took them to the World Cup, Team GB will be forced to withdraw. Stancliffe, who plays for Northampton Town Ladies, knows that even if they do make it to Turkey, they face fierce competition from Russia, whose players are on a reported 40,000 euros bonus to win gold.
“We haven’t really had any funding from UK Sport for the Deaflympics,” she said. “The reason they won’t fund us is that the Deaflympics does not fall under the Olympic/Paralympic pathway. Russia are full-time professionals who travel the world with their training.
“Our target is to raise £125,000 to cover all the costs of attending the tournament – kit, training camps and travel. We must have £20,000 by December to pay the deposits or we won’t be going.