Football coach proves deafness is no hindrance to career on touchline


London (AFP) – Ben Lampert is not a stereotypical football coach. Instead of yelling from the touchline, the deaf trainer issues his instructions in sign language.

The 34-year-old, who is a coach with Brentford FC Community Sports Trust, is proving to be an inspirational mentor to both deaf and hearing children and has been nominated in one of the categories at the UK Coaching Awards on Thursday.

Lampert, a member of the British football squad that won the 2005 Deaflympics title in Australia, ultimately wants to coach a professional team.

“The dream of mine is just to be coaching at the highest level of football, whether it be the academies or the club side,” he told AFP before taking a session with a group of 10-year-old boys.

“Just to be that sort of living embodiment that these barriers can be broken down and can be overcome. The age group would not matter.

“I don’t know whether up to 18 or older. It’s a matter of sort of achieving and becoming an example where deaf people can look up and say ‘Ben’s done it, why can’t I?'”

Lampert, a father of two boys, said there is a perception that it is difficult for deaf people to get their message across but he believes this is misplaced.

“They think that it’s impossible for me to do it or any deaf person to do it,” he said, speaking through an interpreter, who also helped him during the session in west London.

“You know, they think it’s not something that can happen, but it is possible. When I have the opportunity to speak with these people, they realise this.

“It’s all just about communication. At the end of the day, there’s other methods for communication, it’s not just a one-way thing.”

Lampert, who took part in the 2012 Olympics torch relay, said communicating in sign language was a similar challenge to that faced by managers for whom English is not their native tongue.

“They have the skills or the requisite skills to be a top manager. It’s just the language barrier,” said Lampert, who is nominated for an award in the Changing Lives category.

“You know, that’s the only thing getting in the way. There’s no difference, in my view, to a deaf person in that sense.”

Lampert, who is also a coach with England’s deaf football team, said his deafness is not an impediment to how he sees the game, describing it as a “very visual thing”.

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