The sport of futsal is gaining popularity worldwide, and this October, the 6th annual European Deaf Futsal Championship will take place in Montesilvano, Italy. The Israel Women’s Deaf Futsal Team is one of 16 teams slated to participate, a dream of theirs for 10 years. Unfortunately, despite their hard work and undeniable talent, insufficient funds nearly cost them their shot.
The Verbit Company whose mission and solutions are both dedicated to providing equity for individuals who are Deaf, hard of hearing or navigating disabilities, has now stepped in. Verbit’s leadership team rallied to secure the significant donation needed to make the Israeli team’s goal a reality and shine light on this incredible sport.
“We will represent the State of Israel with honor and give women’s futsal a chance to develop,” said Anna Vatchastok, who is among the 11 players who are all deaf or hard of hearing on Israel’s team.
Exploring the growing sport of futsal
Futsal is similar to soccer, but players compete mainly on an indoor court. The court is much smaller than a soccer or football field. Each futsal team has five players on the court, including their goalkeepers.
The smaller area makes futsal fast-paced, and players tend to score more frequently than in soccer. As a result, people often describe the game as more intense. Though this dynamic, challenging game began in Uruguay, it’s been gaining popularity internationally.
Playing in the Israel Deaf Sports Organization
The Israel Women’s National Deaf Futsal team is part of the Israel Deaf Sports Organization (IDSO). IDSO supports many athletes who are deaf and makes it possible for them to participate in leagues that accommodate them.
“It’s fun to play in an environment that understands how to make it accessible to us,” said player Nofer Saban.
The futsal league has referees who are deaf and uses certain accommodations to allow the players to compete. For instance, referees use flashing lights in addition to whistles and wave flags to stop play. Participating in a league that’s fully supportive of athletes who are deaf is something that the players cherish. Watch here to see a glimpse of the team in action.
The team members view themselves as part of a community that shares a culture and language. That shared experience is one of the most valuable aspects of the futsal league.
“The deaf community is a family, a loving and warm host. The community always supports us,” said Elizaveta Blinov, who will be playing for Israel in the European championship.
Supporting women athletes
Verbit’s leadership, including Tom Livne, its Founder and CEO, decided that the company had to come through for the Israel Women’s National Deaf Futsal team. Having the Israeli team sit on the sidelines after all they had accomplished simply couldn’t be an option.
Supporting both women and a sport built around inclusivity is something Verbit’s leaders felt passionate about. Additionally, the Verbit Company, including its media-focused brand VITAC, advocate regularly and produce solutions to help make sporting events more inclusive and accessible.
With the substantial donation Verbit provided, the team was able to purchase plane tickets, equipment, accommodations and gear that they would need to test their skills on the court in Italy.
“One of our core company values is ‘Win Together.’ We are honored to provide the backing and support needed by such an inspiring team of athletes to showcase what is possible on an international stage,” said Tom Livne, Founder & CEO, Verbit. “We are excited to watch this team show the world that no disability nor barrier should stand in the way of one’s ability to ‘win’ and demonstrate their talents.”
This donation allows Verbit to live up to the company’s philosophy of making the world more accessible and inclusive for all and inspiring future athletes with disabilities.
Futsal player Shlomit Twizer said that the ability to play in the championship allows her and her teammates “to fulfill our dream. Our vision is that there will be continuity of the younger generation.”
Israel will kick off their first game against Ireland on October 13. The Verbit Company, inclusive of Verbit, VITAC, Take 1, Take Note and US Captioning, will be watching to cheer on these athletes as they represent the deaf and hard of hearing communities on an international stage.
We encourage you to support this inspiring sport by tuning in to watch the 6th European Deaf Futsal Championship from October 13-23.