Washington Deaf Football Club prepares to compete in the Deaf Champion's League

On 19 June 2022, the players of Washington Deaf Football Club will be heading to Greece to face the best Deaf Football teams from around the world.

They'll be one of two clubs representing England in the Deaf Champion's League.

The team only began playing under the Washington AFC set up in 2020 and won the Northern Section of the English Deaf Football League in their first season.

Alongside them in Greece will be the Southern Section winners, St John's.

Jake Rowan, from Sunderland, will play alongside others from the North East and as far away as Scotland

Defender Jake Rowan told ITV Tyne Tees, "I can't wait. To say that you're playing in the Champions League with some of the best teams in the world in the deaf divisions. It's a bit surreal."

Deaf football is a growing sport. There are five teams in the Northern Section of the EDFL. This means players have to travel to their nearest club and many of the Washington team travel from Scotland.

The team is one of 29 that plays for Washington AFC across all ages

Joint Manager Anthony Smare set up the team; "Mental health problems were a big thing during Covid, we set up our training sessions and players' fitness, mental health and well being has increased.

"We need more deaf people out there in the North East to join Washington football club. Football's fun at the end of the day."

Gary Sykes is Head of Football at Washington AFC. He brought the deaf team into the club and wants to see many more people getting involved; "I'm constantly working with our local FA and visiting schools to try and increase participation for males and females, from a young age as well, to give them that opportunity to play football because that opportunity should be there for everybody."