Deaf Wolves pack a punch despite disability

2015-08-24 08:51
Players from the Deaf Wolves kick a ball around. (Tammy Petersen, News24)

Players from the Deaf Wolves kick a ball around. (Tammy Petersen, News24)

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Cape Town - The players kicking the ball on a sandy soccer field in the heart of Philippi are fleet-footed and perfectly focused on passing without missing their mark.

But there are no commands called to teammates or whistles blown on this pitch - the majority of the team is deaf.

“But don’t consider it a disadvantage,” founder and coach of Deaf Wolves Football Club Mluleki Bojana said via an interpreter as he kicked a ball back to a player.

“These guys are in the zone. They are fast. They see only the ball and are not distracted by background noise. They are better than other teams because they are focused.”

Bojana started the club in September last year to give deaf youngsters a positive outlet for their energy, he explained.

“I saw in my community that deaf people were suffering. Some had nothing to do but wait for a grant, while others drank too much alcohol or did drugs.

“My motivation was to take them away from this and put them on the field, where they can learn discipline and teamwork while keeping fit.”


A game involving deaf players is almost identical to a mainstream soccer match, Bojana said.

“The only difference is that in addition to blowing a whistle, the referee waves a flag to grab the players’ attention.

“We also communicate via hand signals instead of calling out to each other.”

While they regularly play matches against three of the other deaf soccer teams in the province, the players relish the opportunity to go head-to-head with hearing teams.

In their last 12 games, the team has been victorious in six of the battles against mainstream clubs.

The club is affiliated with both the Western Province Deaf Sport Association and the Athlone District Football Association.

Mluleki speaks to the players. (Tammy Petersen, News24)

Dreaming big

Boy Makama, 37, believes he has what it takes to play in the Premier Soccer League.

“I am just as good as the players that can hear and I practice just as hard,” he insisted.

“But I constantly have to prove myself against mainstream players. They forget that we are the same as them, we are only unable to hear.”

Makama refuses to allow his disability to limit his dreams.

“I love this game. I work hard because I want to be great. I want to be respected.”

Teammate Dumisani Faku, 23, has perfect hearing, but he joins the team on the field to support his deaf uncle.

“These players are amazing. They work hard and support each other. I love being part of this group,” he said.

While most opponents respect the tenacity of their deaf competitors, some are not as courteous, Faku pointed out.

“I hate it when players make fun of my teammates or treat us like fools. But they don’t realise it just makes us work harder to beat them.”


While the team’s performance is improving by the day, finances are crippling them.

“Among others, some of the players can’t afford togs. We are in desperate need of uniforms and travelling costs to away games are hitting our pockets hard,” Bojana said.

Player Anele Manyashe, 32, appealed to potential sponsors and donors to help “keep the team going”.

“We work hard and do our best when we are on that field. Any company or person that helps us can be guaranteed that the Deaf Wolves won’t let them down.

“This is a proud team. We are dedicated to the game. All we want is a chance.”

- To assist, SMS Bojana on 071 199 7907 or e-mail Alternatively, phone club secretary Andile Pangwa on 083 713 8552.

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