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“The biggest myth about being deaf is some people think that shouting while trying to talk to us will make us hear better,” says Gregory Ratford, a deaf member of the touch community, who we spoke to following the recent Australian Deaf Games.
Gregory started playing touch back in 1985 with Tuggeranong Valley Touch Football Club, then in 1992 he started refereeing. “Touch was my favourite hobby, but as I got older and had to have surgery on my knee, I couldn’t play anymore. I still wanted to be involved, so I became a grounds controller at the Touch ACT Deakin competition in 2011 and have been ever since.”
Gregory is indispensable to the comp – he sets up the fields, makes sure games run on time, runs the canteen, and deals with player problems and injuries. He loves his work. “My advice would be to follow what you love doing, you can achieve anything you want.”
There are many opportunities in touch football for those with hearing impairments, says Gregory: “There’s deaf touch, for example, competitions during the week, the Australia Deaf Games and the National Deaf Touch Football Championship. There is a team of deaf people (mixed) that play on Thursday nights at Deakin [ACT], for instance.”
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