CHICAGO (Friday, November 21, 2003) - The U.S. team set to compete at the 2005 Deaflympics in Melbourne, Australia, has learned that its men’s soccer squad has been granted an automatic berth into the competition. The U.S. women's deaf soccer team had been given an automatic berth previously. The Deaflympics is played every two years, alternating summer and winter competitions just like the Olympics, and is next scheduled for January 2005 in Melbourne.
The International Committee of Sports for the Deaf (CISS because of its French spelling) organizes the Deaflympics and is affiliated with the International Olympic Committee. The U.S. Team is coordinated by the USA Deaf Sports Federation (USADSF), an affiliate member of the U.S. Olympic Committee with its National Sports Organization, USA Deaf Soccer Association (USADSA). "We are thrilled at this news," said USADSF President Bobbie Beth Scoggins. "We believe we have the best soccer teams in our history and have hopes of placing high in Melbourne."
Currently in the works and final stages of planning and development, the U.S. men’s team will hold its final training/tryouts in Mission Viejo, Calif. on Dec. 20-22, 2003. The U.S. women’s team will train in Thomaston, Ga., just outside of Atlanta from Dec. 5-7, 2003, in its final session of the year. Future plans are underway to train both teams over the years prior to 2005 Deaflympics.
USA Deaf Soccer Association is a new and young association (recently established and recognized by both USSF and USADSF recently). “We feel the the careful planning and work that we've done as an organization paved the way for these automatic berths,” said USADSA President Christos Nicholas. “The men's team has some excellent standout players like Mike Lawson of Rochester Institute of Technology who was elected as the MVP of the recent international tournament in Belgium last April 2003. The women’s team has won 2 out of 3 international tournament championships, one in England in 1999 and one in 2001 in Belgium with Erin Coppedge earning MVP in both championships.”
Confidence is soaring among the USADSA soccer family that has begun to surface with the recent recruiting of top notch players across universities and schools across the nation. With the recent addition of a women’s coach with 27 years experience in Europe and the United States,
U.S. Women’s Head Coach John Sisterson brings vast experience to the U.S. team. He has previously coached for the national governing body in England (the English F.A.), participating in their Coaching Education Scheme in the North East of England. He was recruited by the Upson Board of Education and Upson Soccer Association of Atlanta to improve their community and high school soccer programs. Women’s Assistant Ken MacDonald, also a native of England brings on board considerable amounts of experience from Europe and the USA. MacDonald has been involved in the game at different levels up to semiprofessional in England for 40 years. Sisterson will be speaking at the National Soccer Coaches Association of America on Saturday January 17, 2004, in Charlotte, N.C.
This will be the first time USA men and women will participate in the Deaflympics at the same event, the women’s team in Group B will face off against Sweden, Norway and a third team to be determined (Group A includes Denmark, Great Britain, Russia and Germany). The men’s team is still waiting to learn their pairings.
“The purpose of USADSA is to foster national and/or international amateur sports competition, particularly in the field of soccer; to elevate and sustain the professional character of its members, to disseminate knowledge pertaining to the advancement of soccer among the deaf and hearing impaired population of the United States," said Christos Nicholas, President of USA Deaf Soccer Association.