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MEET ROSA: FINDING HER HOME IN THE WALKING FOOTBALL COMMUNITY

Rosa is a 47-year-old mother of two who lives in London, and this is her story of finding a new home in the walking football community.

In her teens, Rosa started noticing that she was losing some of her hearing after she got back from completing a part of her college course in Majorca – the doctors told her the tiny hairs in her ears were damaged, and this is where her hearing impairment began. She found it difficult, and felt upset, but was determined not to let this beat her.

She has always had a passion for football growing up and even went to a training session at Enfield Town Ladies in her teens, but her close family didn’t share her passion at the time as they didn’t think football was for girls, and throughout her life, Rosa has been determined to prove them wrong.

Fast forward a few years, she was searching for ways to encourage her husband to get active, after he had been diagnosed with polio and has limited movement in his left leg as result – her search directed her to walking football which she thought would be a good fit for him. However, in trying to find her husband’s new sport, she came across Palace for Life’s Women’s Walking Football sessions and fell in love with the sport herself!

She decided to take the plunge and attend the Thursday night sessions at the Crystal Palace F.C. Academy in Beckenham and felt thrilled to be able to play the sport she loved, amongst a group of welcoming women who shared her passion for the game.

Rosa said:

“I’ve always loved football growing up and it’s an absolute joy to be playing at the Crystal Palace Academy. It’s an absolute joy to be playing with other women younger and older than me who have the same passion for football.”

Rosa’s hearing impairment has given her coach Mary the opportunity to develop her coaching skills by adapting her delivery style. Focusing more on demonstrations and whiteboard session plan visualisations rather than relying on verbal coaching skills. For example, if Rosa is number 5 during a drill, Mary shouts 5 and holds 5 fingers in the air so Rosa knows to move. This inclusive environment created by Mary and the other players has made Rosa feel truly welcome.

Rosa said:

“Mary is so lovely. She comes over and has chat with me to make sure I know what I’m doing. I also always try and stand opposite her so I can lip-read and listen to her the best I can. The ladies are also a lovely bunch, really welcoming and inspiring. When playing games, they shout my name a little bit louder, and that really helps as I know the ball is being passed to me.”

Mary Barnett who delivers the sessions said of Rosa:

“We have an inclusive culture at our Women’s Walking Football sessions and welcome players of all abilities. Coaching Rosa has been great and has helped develop my coaching style. Rosa’s hearing impairment has given me the opportunity to develop my coaching skills by adapting my delivery style by explaining drills on a whiteboard rather than verbally.

Over the past few months I have seen Rosa grow in confidence, learn the rules of the game and principles of play. She has adapted well and integrated into the group; enjoying the benefits of fitness, fun and social aspects which these sessions provide. Rosa, the group and myself have all really benefited from her addition to our inclusive group session”

It’s not just Rosa who has a passion for football, her daughter shares the same love, and Rosa says it’s brought them even closer since they started going to Crystal Palace Women’s games together. Rosa’s daughter has autism and was recently offered a space to watch a recent match at the club’s sensory room and received a signed poster from the team afterwards.

Rosa said:

“Even though I was born and bred in North London, I’m a 100% Palace fan and love taking my daughter to the Women’s games.”

Despite her hearing impairment, Rosa is determined to stay positive and enjoy the activities she loves. She encourages others with similar struggles to do the same and not let their impairments beat them.

Through her participation in Palace for Life walking football sessions, Rosa has found a new community of supportive women who share her passion for the sport, and she and her daughter have a fun new hobby to enjoy together.

For more information about our Women and Girls football sessions, please head here.

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