Rudi’s story – “He truly believes he can do anything”
Rudi, is 7 years old, he’s deaf, and he’s mad about football. But he started finding it harder and harder to enjoy the game he loves.
Rudi’s mum, Eva, says that it became difficult for her son to play in mainstream football as he got older.
“Rudi’s football experience before the Foundation started off okay when he was very little. But as he got older it became harder for him to keep up and understand what was going on.
“He just got tired, because his brain has to work so much harder than our brains to try and understand speech.”
It was tough on Rudi, who just wanted to take part and have fun as part of the group.
“The coach kept on looking away, and I couldn’t read his lips. It was so, so hard for me,” Rudi said.
“At the last football I just didn’t really know what to do. I just kept on running.”
It all got to be too much for Rudi, and his mum knew she had to take action.
“Rudi one day came back from school and said ‘Mummy, I don’t want to be deaf anymore, I just want to be normal,’ which broke my heart.
“I thought I had years to go before he’d say something like that.
“I have a little group of parents who have deaf children, and I asked them if they knew about any deaf football opportunities Rudi could do. Straight away loads of people started replying about this amazing session at the BHAFC Foundation.”
After an initial chat to see what was best for him, Rudi was invited down to play at one of our disability-inclusive football sessions. There, he met coach Phil for the first time.
“The first day I met Rudi he walked in and I could see he had a cheeky little smile,” Phil told us, “However, he did have his head down.
“I could tell his confidence was a little bit low.”
“I didn’t really know that many people, and I just felt a bit fizzy. I didn’t know if I was gonna do that good,” Rudi said.
To help Rudi feel more at home, Phil decided to introduce him to someone who knows exactly what he’s going through.
“Rudi was going through a bit of a tough time understanding why he’s deaf, and I thought what better person to introduce him to than Will Brickell?”
Will, a Foundation tutor who works with young people, is also deaf. Like Rudi, he wears implants to aid his hearing.
“Rudi is a really great kid,” Will said.
“Phil asked me to meet Rudi as he was struggling a little bit with his identity as a deaf person.
“I first met him on a Saturday morning, and I could see that he’s such a great kid, he’s so happy and enthusiastic. When he noticed that I’m deaf too he was so excited to see someone else like him.
“He’s full of energy and he doesn’t let anything get him down.
“I saw a lot of my young self in Rudi. I never really had a deaf role model as a kid, and everything that Rudi told me is what I experienced when I was young. Some days he struggles, some days he doesn’t want to be deaf.
“He misses some conversations on the playground and can feel left out, and I really related to that. So being able to be with him and share the same experiences was really useful.
“He’s much more confident now, and I’m glad I met him.”
Rudi loved meeting Will and finding a kindred spirit.
“I talked to Will about what it’s like to be deaf,” he said.
Eva is also full of praise for Will, and the impact he had on Rudi’s perspective.
“Will said to Rudi that being deaf is like a superpower, because he can see what people are saying, and Rudi said to me ‘yeah, that’s what I feel like, it’s so cool!’ she said.
“He is so confident now. We can see his personality all the time.
“He just truly, truly believes he can do anything.”