National coach John Rettel Helmreich, born with a hearing impairment, almost brought tears to his eyes when he told us how difficult the process of getting his team into Brazil was. First there was the heavy and long qualifying, then the blow when it became clear that the KNDSB (the federation) had no money to actually send players on a trip and then the massive support from the country for him and his players at the Deaflympics (Olympic Games for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing).
Virgil van Dijk donated
Telesport decided to support the team in a big way and this action has led to great initiatives. Virgil van Dijk, the great Dutch captain and Liverpool player, was the first to give a big push to make the dream come true, with his family making a very big donation.
Players are proud of their headdress, which prominently features the Dutch lion.
This was followed by Pim Blokland, one of Feyenoord’s friends, who for decades had been sharing a large part of his fortune with the people who needed it most. With his company Klupp, he decided to give all the Dutch participants a new look. The players were proud of their new clothes, but also of the huge lion’s headdress that will make them known in Brazil.
They also sympathized in the dressing rooms of the major Eredivisie clubs. The leaders, led by Ajax’s Dusan Tadic, discussed the financial concerns of the most talented deaf footballers and immediately contributed.
National coach John Rittle Helmreich and captain Gert-Jan Roelofsen.
The whole country is behind the team
“These are the big names and we are incredibly grateful to them,” says Retel Helmrich on behalf of a selection of his picks. “But do you know what’s cool? Life came up all over the country and everywhere we came with our team to play practice matches in preparation for Deaflympics, people were automatically ready to make a contribution. From Halstern in the southern Netherlands to Friesland. In the first place they organized a lottery Where the main prize was a chocolate Easter bunny…then you know people buy a ticket to help you and not to get a prize. In Friesland we were greeted with all due respect and also went home with a big donation.”
Playmaker Jill Thrills, a football-playing window cleaner who is considered the most beautiful thing he’s ever experienced in the sport, is now looking forward to playing for Italy in the major tournament in Rio Grande, where the Netherlands play. Thrills: „If we play smart, we think we can beat Italy and Cameroon. We want to qualify for the second round anyway. Iran is a strong team in our group, because this country was a champion before.”
“Limitations but Unlimited”
Threels thinks the ad he and his team are now making for “other” oranges is great for deaf sports. There has been a misunderstanding about the Dutch deaf team and other deaf athletes for a long time. They do not belong to the Paralympics, because physically they are able to participate in the best sports. But due to their poor hearing, they are also unable to participate in regular sports.
The players and supervisors of the Dutch Deaf team can prepare for the trip to Brazil.
Thrills: “We show that anything is possible.” Then he bursts into laughter because he knows that with his next comment he is putting the outside world in line. „We’re not G players, are we. Most of them use sign language, but they have excellent brains and can do anything.”
The coach agrees. “It is great to show now on the bigger stage that we do the best sports in a certain way. Although all deaf and hard of hearing people are born with a hearing impairment, the word disability does not mean that we feel limited.”
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