Report by Bradley Rice
ENGLAND’S Oli Manoochehri’s dream of playing football for his country is in jeopardy because of a lack of money, writes Bradley Rice.
Midlands born Oli is in danger of missing out on the Deaf European Championships in Crete this summer, unless he and his teammates can each raise £1500.
The England Deaf team were in a similar situation two years ago when raising money to go to the Deaflympics in Turkey.
On that occasion after dipping into his own pockets, Oli was forced to call upon his family and friends for backing.
“I put £250 down myself,” he said.
“Each player had to try and raise £2000. Luckily for me, I got a lot of help from people around me.
“It was the odd 20 to 50 quid here and there, but I appreciated every penny donated, I can’t thank them enough for their support.
“I don’t feel like I can ask them again, because it was so recent, it’s not fair. I feel bad to have to almost beg, it shouldn’t be like this.”
Even then, it was only down to a last gasp intervention from an FA donation that he could finally pack his bags for Turkey.
“It was only because of pressure that the FA decided to donate. I think it was Gary Neville who tweeted them, almost pleading them to help.”
It’s a problem that has plagued Oli’s career and he hasn’t always been so fortunate in finding funds.
“We qualified for the World Cup in 2008,” said Oli. “But we didn’t go because we couldn’t afford to go.
“It was absolutely gutting. We’d played so well in qualifying and the team was on a real high.
“To be told we couldn’t go was so disappointing. When the manager came and told us that we weren’t going, it was incredibly hard to take. The lads were absolutely devastated.”
Over ten years on, the issue of money still surrounds the deaf game.
There is talk that next year, the FA are going to intervene, but by then it could be too late.
“It’s all well and good them saying that, but we need to get to the European Championships,” said Oli.
“We need to perform well. We have to finish in the top eight at the Euros to guarantee us a place at next year’s World Cup.
“If we don’t go to Crete this year, then it will be almost impossible us to qualify for the World Cup. We don’t want a repeat of what happened in 2008.”
There are plenty of ways people can get involved and help Oli and England on their way to achieving European glory.
Oli has set up a BT Donate page, https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/olivermanoochehri for anyone who wants to donate to his cause.
There is also a team page https://mydonate.bt.com/events/englanddeafeuros2019/472334 where you can show your support and help them reach their goal of £30,000.
Hopefully, with our support, the England deaf team can repeat the heroics of Gareth Southgate’s boys last summer.
Who knows, they may even go one better and bring home the trophy!
Bradley Rice can be found writing for his blog – Half-Time Oranges – where he provides original insights into the beautiful game from a number of different angles, all sharing the same trend of focusing on real stories from real people.
He can also be found providing live tweets and content for Solihull Moors Academy side @MoorsAcademy