Touch footballer Peta Ware expects a bumper turnout from Hunter athletes when Newcastle hosts the Australian Deaf Games in 2022.
Newcastle and Lake Macquarie councils recently announced that they had secured the rights to host the event after lodging a joint bid.
The games, which are held every four years, will draw more than 1000 athletes from across Australia and the Pacific.
The competitive program will include futsal, basketball, touch, beach volleyball, golf, athletics, swimming, darts, cricket, tennis and a range of other sports. The opening and closing ceremonies will be at No.2 Sportsground.
“It’s good to have an opportunity where it’s close to home,” Ms Ware, who works for Lake Macquarie City Council, said.
“I know there’s a lot of people in the community that don’t have the money to travel to the events we’ve had in the past, so it will be good to have something close to home that’s accessible for them to get to.
“I’d like to tell people to get amongst it, get involved. If you’re deaf or hard of hearing, get in contact with the Australian Deaf Games and they’ll be able to give you a contact.”
Ms Ware plays for the Hunter Hornets touch team and competed in the over-35s division at the National Touch League in Coffs Harbour in March.
She captained the Australian women’s team to the final at the Deaf Rugby World Cup in April and helped NSW to a clean sweep of the women’s and mixed divisions of the Australian Deaf Games touch titles in Albury Wodonga in January.
She said the level of competition between states and Pacific nations would vary among sports but in some disciplines would be high.
“Don’t think just because we’re disabled it’s not going to be a good sport to watch. Get involved and you’ll be surprised by what you see.”
Decorated Scone thrower Amy Mills said she might come out of retirement for the games. She won javelin golds and set meet records at the Deaflympics in Melbourne in 2005 and Sofia, Bulgaria, in 2013 and also competed at that level in Taiwan in 2009.
She said hearing-impaired athletes regarded the Australian Deaf Games as “right up there” as a sporting achievement.
Deaf Sports Australia board member Alex Jones said the organisation had hosted deafness awareness training before the Albury Wodonga games and 300 people had learned some basic sign language to help them communicate with athletes and coaches.