Former apprentice plays for Team GB in Euro Deaf Football Championship

Published: 6th September 2015

Published by Southampton City College

Ex City College apprentice, Philip Swift, has represented team Great Britain in the European Deaf Football Championship in Hanover, Germany.

Philip, 25, from Highfield, Southampton, swapped his computer monitor for football boots to represent GB in a forward position. The team took home bronze after being knocked out by a 3-2 defeat from title-winners Turkey in the semi-finals. A 2-1 win over Ukraine on June 26 saw the team secure third place.

Philip, who studied a civil engineering advanced apprenticeship with the college from 2011 to 2013 and worked at Southampton structural engineering firm, SFK Consulting, has since progressed to full-time employment at Ramboll UK Ltd, as a trainee CAD technician.

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Philip said: "I was over the moon when I received the letter from Phillip Gardner, GB deaf football manager, to say that I had been selected to play for the Men's Great Britain Deaf Football Team.

"It was great experience in Germany and it was one of the greatest sporting achievements of my entire life to be a part of that team. My aim was to win a gold medal but I was chuffed with the bronze."

The competition, which finished on June 27, saw men's and women's teams from countries including Belgium, France, Italy, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine, compete against one another to win the coveted champion position.

The British team competed against Russia, Czech Republic and Denmark in Group B and took first place with nine points. The women's team also made it to the bronze medal match but missed out to Poland.

Philip was born profoundly deaf and did not hear anything until he was given cochlear implants aged eight. He currently plays in midfield for Fulham Deaf in the Surrey South Eastern Combination Intermediate Division 2 League. The club has won both the British Deaf Cup and England Deaf Challenge Cup three times and came fourth in the Deaf Champions League in 2014.

Deaf Football has a long history in Great Britain, with the first club, the Glasgow Deaf Athletic Football Club, founded in 1871. Great Britain Deaf has won the World Championship title six times in the Deaflympics and is currently ranked number one in the world for deaf football. There are 25 active deaf football clubs in Great Britain and most of them compete in mainstream football leagues. However, deaf footballers face disadvantages, such as not being able to hear instructions or the referee's decision.

In the European Championships, teams must play without hearing aids or cochlear implants to comply with the rules of European Deaf Football. Some players were born deaf and some have partial hearing loss. On the pitch the players use sign language to communicate with one another.