AST, a Verbit Company, is excited to announce our support for the Israel Women’s Deaf Futsal Team. For AST and the full suite of Verbit Companies, including VITAC, Take 1, Take Note and US Captioning, the donation represents a commitment to improving accessibility and equity for individuals with disabilities, including those who are Deaf or hard of hearing.
AST’s solutions and missions all work toward making the world a more inclusive place. The donation is a wonderful chance to further those goals while promoting top athletes and an exciting up-and-coming sport.
How sports leagues support athletes who are Deaf
The Israel Deaf Sports Organization (IDSO) includes the Women’s National Deaf Futsal Team. The team’s players benefit from the IDSO’s commitment to inclusive athletics. The league’s referees are Deaf and use accessible methods to govern the games. For example, flashing lights and flags help inform players during the game rather than whistles.
“It’s fun to play in an environment that understands how to make it accessible to us,” said player Nofer Saban.
However, the dedicated athletes say it’s more than the accommodations that make the league so important to them. “The deaf community is a family, a loving and warm host. The community always supports us,” said Elizaveta Blinov, another member of the team.
AST is already taking part in efforts to make sporting events at universities more inclusive with live captioning for audiences. VITAC, another Verbit Company, is carrying out accessibility efforts in professional sports arenas and for live broadcasts of MLB games and other events.
Helping promote accessibility for athletes and spectators is an important part of AST and the Verbit Company’s mission. Bringing recognition to the exciting sport of futsal and competitions that support athletes who are Deaf or hard of hearing is one way the company is meeting that goal.
Futsal’s growing international appeal
Futsal is a sport that originated in Uruguay and is similar to soccer. Unlike football or soccer, futsal is predominantly an indoor game. The futsal court is smaller than a soccer field, and only five players compete per team, including a goalkeeper.
The sport is gaining popularity internationally thanks to its fast pace and intensity. Some fans believe that the differences between soccer and futsal make the lesser-known game more exciting. For instance, players are more likely to score goals and the close quarters mean competitors must have expert-level footwork. As a result, the sport is fun for players and exciting to watch.
The team’s chance to compete internationally
For the members of the Israel Women’s Deaf Futsal Team, playing in the European Deaf Futsal Championship has been a dream ten years in the making. This year, the team was excited about the prospect of competing in the championship’s 6th annual event in Montesilvano, Italy. However, just months before they were planning to travel to the tournament, they learned that they lacked the funds necessary to attend and play in the championship.
AST and the Verbit Company step up for the team
Many members of Verbit’s leadership work from the company’s headquarters in Tel Aviv where the team’s accomplishments attracted attention. When AST’s leadership and Verbit’s CEO and founder, Tom Livne, learned that the team might miss the competition, they chose to step in. After all the hard work and accomplishments of the Israel Women’s National Deaf Futsal team, the company was determined to see them complete in Italy.
“One of our core company values is ‘Win Together.’ We are honored to provide the backing and support needed by such an inspiring team of athletes to showcase what is possible on an international stage,” said Livne. “We are excited to watch this team show the world that no disability nor barrier should stand in the way of one’s ability to ‘win’ and demonstrate their talents.”
The substantial donation will support the league and the athletes. With the added financial backing, the team could cover plane tickets, equipment, accommodations and other expenses related to competing in the championship. Now, the 11 members of the team, all of whom are Deaf or hard of hearing, will have an opportunity to show off their skills and the results of their years of dedication and hard work.
Inspiring future generations of athletes who are Deaf or hard of hearing
With the financial concerns out of the way, Futsal player Shlomit Twizer said she and the team could “fulfill our dream.” For Twizer, the competition is part of a larger plan. “Our vision is that there will be continuity of the younger generation.”
AST and Verbit share that sentiment and will continue to promote a more inclusive, equitable world for future generations.
The team now looks forward to facing Ireland on October 13. AST is excited to watch these talented athletes represent Israel and the Deaf and hard-of-hearing community.
Follow the team as they compete in the 6th European Deaf Futsal Championship from October 11-23 and show your support for these hard-working and talented athletes.