Brentford Head Coach Thomas Frank joined Bees fans in learning sign language at their game against Queens Park Rangers on Saturday. The initiative, run by Brentford FC Community Sports Trust, saw a number of Brentford fans learn how to sign their name before the west London derby at Griffin Park. And it was a great day all round as Brentford won the game 3-0.
Situated within the forecourt of the Braemar Road entrance at Griffin Park, young deaf people helped promote British Sign Language as part of the EFL-backed Level Playing Field campaign, which advocates for disabled football fans. Run in partnership with National Citizens Service and the English Football League Trust, the youngsters teaching sign language are also part of the Trust’s Social Mix project, which encourages greater integration amongst disabled and non-disabled people.
And after Brentford sealed an impressive 3-0 win, Thomas Frank’s post-match press conference was translated to sign language to the young deaf people involved in the project. The project has been pioneered by the Trust’s deaf football coach – Ben Lampert – who has helped raised the profile of deaf sports across west London.
Ben, who taught Thomas Frank sign language after the match, said: “Growing up, I had to fit in and adapt to sports sessions – rather than the sessions adapted to me and my disability. I got involved with the Trust so that I could break down the barriers I faced as a child and to ensure that sport can be enjoyed by all deaf people. Sometimes, I think there is a misconception that deaf people can’t achieve anything because of their disability. If deaf people can achieve great things in sport, we can change this mentality.”
The young people from the project, which includes both hearing and deaf people, have already completed the first stage of the social mix project in Dorset. Rock climbing and raft building were just some of the adrenaline-fuelled activities they took part in. Yet the project has also been credited with serving an important purpose – harnessing the power of sport to bring deaf and hearing people together.
Cliff Crown, Brentford FC Chairman, said: “We were delighted to promote the Level Playing Field Weeks of Action at our game on Saturday. We see ourselves as one of the most welcoming clubs around and we do all we can to give all disabled supporters a great day at Griffin Park every time we play. I hope to see more and more fans with disabilities at our matches as we move in to our new stadium and are able to provide even better facilities.
“Ben Lampert has been a great ambassador for the Club and the Trust with his work in deaf football and it was fantastic to see him working with our fans and young people learning sign language at the game on Saturday. Learning simple sign language is something we can all do to help deaf football supporters feel welcome and I am glad many of our fans joined in with the initiative.”