With Ireland’s Men’s and Women’s teams playing in the European Deaf Football Championships in Crete, ending on June 15th. Joey Watson, Player-Manager with the Irish men’s team told us his I’m In Too story on how he got involved in Football.
My name is Joey Watson, I am 37 years old and from Waterford.
I went to Beechpark Deaf primary School in Stillorgan when I was 4. It was hard to leave home so far away. Then I moved to St.Joseph’s School for the Deaf (Post Primary) in Navan Road, Cabra. I joined a soccer club when I was 12 – Waterford Bohemians. Looking back I realised I was late to join a club – a school teacher who spotted me playing soccer in school recommended my grandfather to get me to join a local club. I stayed with them until I reached 17 and signed for League of Ireland side Waterford United. I wish I started to play with a local club from 4 years old so I can develop into a better player now.
I got selected for Ireland Deaf Soccer team in 1999, went to Norway for European Championships. Now this year is my 20th year as a player (79 caps and 60 goals) Ireland will go to Crete on 31st May this year for European Deaf Soccer Championships, this one will be a new challenge for me as I am a player-manager. I managed to find lots of new mainstream players drafted into the squad. We will play against Hungary on 3rd June, Turkey on 5th and Denmark on 7th. Fundraising for the team is so difficult but we are getting there now.
In my school days, there were lots of sport I was involved in (Swimming, Soccer, Table Tennis etc) but soccer was always my favourite and still is.
A big challenge is when I get older, it’s always harder to train with young players when they are faster and I have to catch up with them. And I do different active now than before for example – strength condition work out. When I was young, I never do that but when I get older I need to look after myself to ensure that I am in top condition for European Deaf Soccer Championships this Summer. This year will be my last one as I have a young family (Amber is 2 and we are expecting 2nd baby in July.
Challenge in being active – to play soccer with hearing players. Communication was hard and sometimes being left out. (That’s normal for every Deaf athlete in hearing sport environment) I played with hundreds of hearing players for 17 years, made lots of friends. No regrets at all.
I won FAI Junior cup in 2006 with Waterford Crystal and also Oscar Traynor side in 2007 with Waterford District League. I hold 5 all Ireland FAI medals (Waterford United Under 21 league and cup double) – One cap for Ireland Junior international team against Scotland and 2 caps for Futsal international team against Israel and Norway.
My experience of competing at a high level when I was with Waterford United: I used to hate pre-season with them – sandhill in Tramore, Co.Waterford it was a killer session, my legs were like jelly afterward. Most of us always dreading for that session but it was a good benefit for all of us to prepare for a long season. Most clubs have their own different training session, I always enjoy it.
My advice for people with disabilities: Don’t let your disability stop you from achieving what you are good at. And to enjoy sport. Keep yourself in active is so important for your well being, no matter how old – if you don’t enjoy an active, find another one that you like. Don’t wait.