Danielle Evans, 22, has worn a hearing aid since the age of four after she found out that she had hearing impairments following contracting chicken pox at just two-years-old.
"Being deaf did make me have a lack of confidence and belief in myself growing up but I never knew any different, I was young and I was coping with it."
When Danielle was 11 she started playing football and at 13 she discovered the Everton Deaf programme which is where she was able to begin building on her confidence.
Everton in the Community supported her in a number of different ways - through various funding and they entered her in a number of different competitions and tournaments, showing the belief they had in her and the belief she should have in herself.
"The coaches (at Everton) are really positive. Steve Johnson was the one who put me in touch with the England manager and they asked me to go for a trial - ever since I’ve been playing for England. When I first joined I was 15 and going to the World Cup made me the youngest player ever to play for England’s Women’s Deaf team."
Playing with the Everton and England Deaf teams also helped to develop a number of Danielle’s skills, specifically in communication. When she joined up with England she found that communication was very different than what she was used to as different players had different levels of hearing abilities. Some could speak, some signed and she found a massive communication breakdown.
"I thought now I’m playing for this team I need to go and learn sign language to be able to communicate with them, so I did."
The opportunities and rewards for Danielle became more exciting and more frequent the longer she was working with and playing at Everton. She has won the Disability Player of the Year award twice, won national leagues with the Everton Pan Disability Ladies team, played in European Championships and World Cups with England and she has even taken part in the Deaflympics and was the top scorer for the Great Britain Women’s team in 2013.
Danielle also won the Young Person of the Project award at a Deaf Friendly Football conference in Anfield when she was just 16 for her exceptional contributions to the Deaf Friendly Football Club project and for being an inspiration for other young girls who wish to play football at a high level.
The impacts that playing football and being a part of the Everton Deaf programme have had on Danielle’s life have been huge, life-changing even. It brought out a competitive edge in her which she never knew she had and showed her that you should never give up; if you get knocked back, you just keep trying until you succeed.
"That’s the sort of attitude I’ve got now and it’s through football. Football gave me the confidence that I never had; being deaf,it made me lack confidence and belief in myself. Everton in the Community brought that out of me and they told me that I could achieve whatever I wanted to achieve."
Danielle now works full-time for the ambulance service as an emergency medical technican and has previously volunteered for Everton in the Community to show her thanks for the belief that the charity showed in her. In November she will travel to Thailand with England for the World Futsal Championships and still plays weekly for both an Everton in the Community inclusive futsal team as well playing for the Liverpool Feds first team.
For more information on the programmes delivered by the charity’s Disability Development programme click here.
To help Everton in the Community continue to deliver life-changing opportunities to help more people like Danielle, click here.