England Deaf Women Futsal star Zara Musker tells her story

To mark Deaf Awareness Week (May 6-12), Disability Sports Coach asked England Deaf Women Futsal star, Zara Musker, to share her incredible story.

Zara has beaten the odds to achieve so much on the pitch and shares her journey to inspire other young Deaf athletes…

Tell us how your journey in sport began?

I played football from a young age as both my parents played – and there’s only 18 months between me and my brother, so we grew up with a football or watching football.  I began playing for my first football team when I was eight or nine years old, before playing for Blackburn Rovers from age 10-16.

At this time, I was wearing hearing aids and sometimes struggling to hear on the pitch.

It wasn’t until I lost all my hearing at the age of 24, that I really understood how much I had to adapt when playing in hearing teams.

I was 13 when I was asked to train with the England Deaf Women’s Futsal team. At this point, I had never interacted with a deaf person before. I never even knew that such a team existed, never mind representing England.


How did being deaf affect you? What obstacles did you have to overcome?

Growing up I was never defined by my deafness, and as I seemed to cope so well with my hearing aids, my achievements always outweighed any struggles.

But as the pitches got bigger it was a lot more difficult to hear the coach or players from the other side.

I realised that I’d developed coping mechanisms and I would often make sure that I could see the coach’s lips without anyone even realising that I was doing it.

Often people would doubt my abilities on the pitch because of my hearing loss, so I always felt like I had to worker harder than hearing peers to prove myself.

My hearing loss now poses a lot more challenges as I have no natural hearing and rely on my cochlear implant.

It’s been difficult at times for me to accept but I have also become more grateful for opportunities, people and things that I have in my life.


What is the best moment of your career so far?

Being asked to captain my country in a World Cup was hands down the biggest achievement and best moment of my sporting career!

Leading the team out in Brazil, the home of futsal, was an incredible moment for me and my family. It summed up the journey I have been on throughout my life, all the struggles and sacrifices paid off.

Looking back on my life over the last 27 years, sport has had the biggest influence on me as a person on and off the field. It has allowed me to express myself, given me an outlet and taught me skills that have transferred into my everyday life.


What needs to change to make it easier for deaf children and young people to take part in sport?

The communication and accessibility challenges faced by young deaf children playing in mainstream sport really stick out for me.

It’s so important from grassroots up, that coaches have access to deaf awareness and communication training, so that young deaf children are included in sport.

Also, it’s important for deaf children to have the confidence to speak up. Their relationship with the coach plays a huge part in accessing sport and staying with it. Having a conversation about communication needs will help the coach to understand how to include deaf children. Young deaf children should also be aware and signposted to deaf role models within sport who they can look up to and aspire to be.


What’s your message to deaf children and young people who have ambitions in sport?

One of my favourite quotes is ‘You’re not disabled by the disabilities you have; you are able by the abilities you have’.

I would say to a younger me and young deaf children who want to be successful in sport, or even just get involved, ‘If you desire to make a difference in the world, you must be different from the world’.



An account is already registered with that username. Please choose another.


Skip to content