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DiaEuro 2019: Player Perspective from Portugal (Joao Nabais)

I had the pleasure to participate in Diaeuro 2019 as a member of the Portuguese Team. This is the 6th time that I play in this amazing tournament and every year brings me different memories, along the years I could make new friends, saw new teams been created, new countries been represented and I could witness the development of the teams. The quality of the teams, and also the tournament, has increased significantly over time.

One of these new projects is The Diabetes Football Community (TDFC) led by Chris Bright, that in 2018 created the UK team to join us in Diaeuro. TDFC is an impactful project that is doing an excellent job, it crosses the UK borders and it’s looked at as an example. It’s very interesting to see the development of the UK team! You are doing everything with professionalism, passion and a willingness to improve. I am sure that the results will come, as the way has been paved for success. 

Good and solid projects, such as the TDFC, improves the lives of those living with diabetes by raising awareness on diabetes and the creation of role models for the youngsters.

DiaEuro is a unique event in the World, we have more than 150 people with diabetes playing the same sport in one week, competing for the European Championship making DiaEuro an extraordinary event. But, DiaEuro is not only a futsal championship! It is also about friendship, about raising awareness of diabetes and about putting diabetes high on the political agenda. All of the communication that the teams make on social media, TV and newspapers is a key element for the diabetes community.

DiaEuro has helped many diabetes associations across Europe to show that people with diabetes can (I would say should) do sports and physical activity. We still have discrimination against people with diabetes in many areas that we must fight.

To be part of the team representing your country has helped people to manage better their diabetes because of the contact with other people living with diabetes, we can learn from them and find the motivation to have a better diabetes control, even because we all know that our performance reaches the maximum under such conditions. It has happened in the Portuguese team and I am sure that the same has occurred in other teams.

The friendship amongst the teams is something that I would like to highlight. Of course that all teams wants to win every game but before and after the matches we are good friends and we talk not only about futsal but also about diabetes, how we manage diabetes during the competition and the training sessions and how is the situation in each country. During the games apart from a few bickering’s, which is natural in futsal a fast game with physical contact, everyone shows a high level of respect to their colleagues and opponents. 

The friendship goes to a point where we are willing to help other teams to develop because we know that this will benefit the tournament and also it will be a huge help for people living with diabetes. The photos taken at Diaeuro 2019 after the game with the UK team and before the game with Croatia tell you a lot about the spirit of DiaEuro. The Portuguese and the Croatian team were mixed up during the National Anthems along with coaches and referees. 

Regarding Diaeuro 2019, it was a very well organised tournament with vibrant games. It was a very hard tournament because we had to play 4 games in 2 days at the group stage. This was not easy but we managed to survive 😉 and also we had the opportunity to showcase that diabetes is not a barrier to play futsal at the highest level under very demanding conditions. In fact, this is the key message of the Portuguese squad:  Diabetes is not a barrier, when well treated, in achieving our dreams. 

We didn’t have any major or serious injuries during the tournament, which is something that we need to highlight. This was the first time over the last years that that has happened. 

DiaEuro is in my heart! I strongly believe on its potential to unite people as weird  as this may sound because it is a competition at the end of the day 😉

Looking forward seeing you all at Diaeuro 2020!

Portuguese Translation Below 🙂

Diaeuro 2019

Tive o prazer de participar no Diaeuro 2019 como elemento da Equipa Portuguesa. Esta foi a 6º vez que tive a oportunidade de jogar neste formidável torneio e posso dizer que de cada ano guardo memórias diferentes. Ao longo dos anos, tive o gosto em fazer novos amigos, ver novas equipas serem criadas para representar mais países e testemunhei o desenvolvimento das equipas.  A qualidade das equipas bem como do torneio aumentou significativamente ao longo do tempo.

Um destes novos projectos é o Diabetes FootballComunity (TDFC) criado e liderado por Chris Bright, que em 2018 formou a equipa de futsal de pessoas com diabetes do Reino Unido para participar no Diaeuro. O TDFC é um projeto com grande impacto e onde o excelente trabalho realizado permite cruzaras fronteiras do Reino Unido sendo visto como um exemplo. É muito interessante ver o desenvolvimento da equipa do Reino Unido e perspetivar o futuro! Esta equipa faz tudo com profissionalismo, paixão e vontade de melhorar. Tenho a certeza de que os resultados virão, o caminho está sendo preparado para o sucesso.

Projetos bons e sólidos, como o TDFC, melhoram a vida das pessoas que vivem com diabetes, aumentando o conhecimento sobre a diabetes e sendo considerados como modelos para os jovens.

Diaeuro é um evento único no mundo, onde mais de 150 pessoas com diabetes jogam o mesmo desporto durante uma semana, competindo pelo Campeonato Europeu e tornando o Diaeuro um evento extraordinário. Mas o Diaeuro não é apenas um campeonato de futsal! É também um evento sobre amizade, sobre a promoção da diabetes e sobre colocar a diabetes no topo da agenda política. Toda a comunicação que as equipas fazem nas redessociais, TV e jornais é um elemento-chave para a comunidade da diabetes na Europa e ao nível de cada país.

O Diaeuro ajudou muitas associações de diabetes em toda a Europa a mostrar que pessoas com diabetes podem (eu diria que deveriam) praticar desporto e atividade física. Ainda existediscriminação contra pessoas com diabetes em muitas áreas que devemos combater.

Fazer parte da equipa que representa o seu país ajudou algumas pessoas a gerir melhor a diabetes por causa do contato com outras pessoas com diabetes e como resultado da aprendizagem com os colegas de equipa. O bom controlo metabólico da diabetes permite alcançar um melhor desempenho no desporto o que é uma motivação extra. Aconteceu na equipa portuguesa e tenho a certeza que o mesmo aconteceu em outras equipas.

A amizade entre aa equipas é algo que eu gostaria de destacar. É claro que todas as equipas querem vencer todos os jogos, mas antes e depois dos jogos somos bons amigos e falamos não apenas sobre futsal mas também sobre diabetes, como gerimos adiabetes durante a competição e as sessões de treinos e como está a situação em cada país. Durante os jogos, além de algumas picardias, naturais no futsal e fruto de ser um jogo rápido com contato físico, todos demonstram grande respeito aos colega e aos adversários.

A amizade chega a um ponto em que estamos dispostos a ajudar outras equipas a crescerem, porque sabemos que isso beneficiará o torneio e também será uma grande ajuda para as pessoas que vivem com diabetes. As fotos tiradas no Diaeuro2019 após o jogo com a equipa do Reino Unido e antes do jogo com Croacia dizem muito sobre o espírito do Diaeuro. A equipa Portuguesa e Croata ficaram misturadas, juntamente com os treinadores e árbitros, durante os Hinos Nacionais.

Em relação ao Diaeuro 2019, foi um torneio bem organizado com jogos vibrantes e intensos. Foi um torneio muito difícil porque tivemos que jogar 4 jogos em 2 dias na fase de grupos. Não foi fácil, mas conseguimos sobreviver;) e também tivemos a oportunidade de mostrar que a diabetes não é uma barreira para jogar futsal ao mais alto nível sob condições muito exigentes. De facto, esta é a mensagem chave da equipa portuguesa: A diabetes não é uma barreira, quando bem trate da, para alcançar os nossos sonhos.

Gostaria ainda de destacar que, ao contrário dos últimos anos, este ano não houve nenhuma lesãograve durante o torneio.

O Diauero está no meu coração! Acredito fortemente no seu potencial para unir as pessoas, por estranhoque isso possa parecer, porque estamos a falar de uma competição 

 

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DiaEuro 2019: UK Player’s Perspective (Calvin Ferguson)

Now the dust has settled on the recent DiaEuro’s, I thought it would be a good time to summarise the experience…

It was an unbelievable feeling to pull on the kit and represent the United Kingdom in an international tournament. I have never felt any feeling like the feeling when we sang the national anthem before every game.  To score was a bonus, from my own half and against the holders and eventual champions was even more special.

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The standard of Futsal was phenomenal at times, especially against the likes of Portugal and Bosnia, they are light years ahead of where the UK as a whole are with Futsal, although to be fair, it is played far more commonly across Central and Eastern Europe, along with South America, than it is here in the UK, but, we are finally making moves forward to somewhat closing the quality gap.  We received many comments from opposition managers and players, stating how we were much improved from last year, even if the eventual results did not show this.

We were beaten 5-1 in the opening game against Portugal, although we felt the scoreline was pretty harsh, we had no argument about the loss itself. The day after we then lost 1-0 to Slovakia, after dominating the game, which was disappointing and then, in the afternoon, we drew 1-1 with the Republic of Ireland, again, after having the majority of chances.

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We were truly up against it as we then required a result against the holders, Bosnia & Herzegovina, to have a chance of progressing from the group stage.  They blitzed us in the first half and we were 8-1 down at half time and 11-1 down within 2 minutes of the 2nd half beginning…!  To our credit, we dominated most of the second half, which included my goal, but the game was long gone by then…Bosnia went on to beat the hosts, Ukraine, 1-0, in the final, therefore retaining their title.

It has been great reading all the messages of support from home whilst we were over there, thanks so much for those, it meant a lot to the team and pushed us even further to take pride in representing both our country and condition.   It was great to have my Dad supporting us up in the stands for all the games too, along with family members of other players and also people from other nations, who took to our fight and determination on display.

I can genuinely say that it was a pleasure and a privilege to line up alongside each and every one of you lads in the squad…the spirit we showed to play for each other, our country and condition was second to none…at 11-1 down against the tournaments best team, we rallied round and promised each other that we would hold strong and use that first half “schooling” as a lesson, to then play out the rest of the half at a score of 2-0 in our favour was exactly what was needed, even if it was too late to rescue anything from the match.

We formed bonds with many of the players from other nations, including Portugal, Ukraine and Croatia, something that will help us both at future DiaEuro tournaments, and, as a team as a whole.

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The main message overall was to prove that Diabetes should be no barrier to playing sport and competing at a high standard.  I never thought I would represent my country at this level in any sport but now that I have done, I am very proud to say that.  The team as a whole was really supportive of each other, helping each other out when low – many of the guys provided me with the Lift glucose tablets when I hadn’t any left over and the Dexcom G6 CGM allowed constant monitoring for the whole squad, the beep became a famous notification amongst the squad, meaning nobody could avoid correcting their levels!

Despite the results, the experience was absolutely first class, I am very proud of each and every one of the team, including the management staff and our supporters who came out to Ukraine to cheer us on…simply the best!

As a Diabetic, there are no barriers to what you can achieve – whether you want to represent your country or just simply play sport with your friends in the park, you can achieve any of this…Diabetes will not stop you from participating or achieving your dreams.  Some days are certainly tougher than others but with constantly improving technology, awareness and support groups, like TDFC, the boundaries and barriers are becoming smaller and the world is becoming more aware of Diabetes…

I hope we as a squad have inspired and motivated many of you back at home and those of you who are a part of the TDFC community.  The results may have not gone our way this year, but, our main goal is always to spread the word and pass on the message that Diabetes creates no barriers to achieving what you wish.

Calvin

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My Story: Kendall Higgs

At The Diabetes Football Community we love to share the stories of those of you who follow us. With the diverse nature of the community we support it’s always amazing to share stories from all over the world. So here we are bringing you a story from Kendall who’s based in the USA. No more words from us other than to say if you enjoyed reading Kendall’s blog please give it a share. Over to you Kendall…..

“My name is Kendall Higgs, I’m from Loxahatchee, Florida , and I’m 20 years old. I fell in love with the game of soccer at four years old. I remember feeling unstoppable with the ball at my feet. On August 3rd, 2009 my world changed. I got diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at 10 years old. The first three questions I would ask anyone who came into my hospital room was 1. Can I still play soccer 2. Can I still drink milk 3. Am I going to die.. in that order 😂 to some people, my priorities may have been a little off.. but for me, if I couldn’t play soccer anymore, I might as well be dead. Even though most doctors told me I most likely couldn’t continue to play, I did it anyways. I refused to allow something to take over my life. I traveled to Costa Rica at 14 and Brazil at 16 to play soccer with region 3 ODP (Olympic Development Program)

I graduated early from high school and went to University of Pittsburgh in 2017. After 3 semesters there I transferred and now play at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Georgia. Soccer has been my way to connect to people, to new places, and to different cultures. When I’m not playing soccer, I feel out of place.. and at first my T1D contributed to that “out of place” feeling. I didn’t want to embrace my Diabetes..I wanted to pretend I didn’t have it. It wasn’t until this past year that I really started to take care of myself and to fully embrace my disease. I recently started T1D1 Diabetic Athletes as a way to spread awareness, give a platform to other diabetic athletes, and to show young, aspiring T1D athletes that it does not limit, control, or lessen their ability to be successful.

Within this journey I have realized that soccer isn’t my only way to connect to people.. T1D has allowed me to connect to others battling the same illness, to learn, to empower, and so much more. I am so grateful to be apart of the T1D community.”

A big thank you from all of us at TDFC for sharing your story Kendall and if anyone else would like to share theirs please get in touch !

Squad Announcement: Scott Burrell

Photo 14-07-2019, 15 19 29I am Scott Burrell, 30 years-old and I have had Type 1 Diabetes for 20 years and was diagnosed in 1999.

Played in the Peterborough & District League (various divisions) for the last 10/12 years. Will be playing for Spalding Town this coming season. Currently playing for TDFC London in the London Futsal League and play 5 & 7-a-side during the week too.

Really looking forward to playing for the UK team in Kiev. Bratislava last year was a fantastic experience and this is an opportunity to take what was learnt there and improve upon it.

TDFC has been fantastic for me. Prior to TDFC I’d never spent any time or played any football with any other T1. That did change at the start of the 18/19 football season when I signed for a team who also had a T1 player in the ranks! Everybody involved with TDFC is fantastic, it’s such a helpful, insightful community but also with that major desire to win matches when we step onto the pitch. Since being involved I’ve actually changed insulins and am much more up-to-date with the various technologies in tracking glucose levels (the likes of Dexcom G6) so feel it’s helped me massively in every day life! Its given me confidence to inject in public and talk very openly about T1, something I never did prior to TDFC. This might sound over the top but I can honestly say being part of TDFC and has improved my every day life.

Message to anybody else with T1 would really be to not let it stop you doing anything and if you’re not involved already get involved with the #doc and #GBdoc online. Incredibly helpful social media community to really help you out.

Squad Announcement: Jack O’Brien

Photo 14-07-2019, 15 18 07I am Jack O’Brien, I am 27 years old and have been a Type 1 Diabetic since February 2017.

I have always played football throughout my life. The last couple of years I have tried to play mainly 5 or 7 a side football and also Futsal when I get the opportunity. I also coach a Football team at the school I work at. We have been successful this year being crowned the London Schools Champions.

I am incredibly proud to say that I will be representing the UK again this year at the DiaEuro. Not only representing our country, but our condition as well which is something that really inspires me. My Family are all so proud as well, and will be flying over this year to cheer us all on! On a personal note, I would love to chip in with a goal or two this year!

Being involved in TDFC has been a big part of my Diabetic journey to date. I was newly Diagnosed when the TDFC was formed so I pretty much got involved when I was still learning about the condition. It was brilliant for me to be able to make friends and spend time with other Diabetics who share a passion for Football. I was really concerned when diagnosed that playing sports was going to be to challenging, but learning so much from the rest of the guys put me at ease and made the big transition I was going through a lot easier. If there are any newly diagnosed people reading, then I strongly recommend getting involved with TDFC!

Squad Announcement: Jon Rosser

66900572_2360386744219753_8012561137671340032_nI am Jon Rosser, 26 years-old and have had type 1 diabetic for 16 years.

I’ve been involved with TDFC for around 18 months now, but have always played football in some form since I could walk! With my youth football I played at several youth development set ups and at Forest Green Rovers, before going onto play National leagues at university and still continue to play 11 a side in the Gloucestershire Northern Senior League.

Getting involved with TDFC has really been a new sporting chapter for me, firstly in learning a different form of the game in Futsal which I am enjoying massively, and secondly it has opened up a whole new dimension to my sport where I can interact and find support in a group of players that also have to cope with the challenges diabetes can have on performance and also daily life. The way the squad pushes each other and instills the highest standards possible, whilst also encouraging greater control and openness about the condition is something I look forward to at every session we have.

After playing in Slovakia last year I am excited to once again represent the country and the condition, and to show that there are no barriers to participation, only hurdles – and with hard work and support these can easily be overcome!

Squad Announcement: Chris Bright

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I’m 28 years old and as founder of TDFC I’ve been there since the very start (February 2017). I’ve lived with type 1 Diabetes since 1999 (20 years).

 

I’ve played futsal for Birmingham Tigers, Worcester and the University of Nottingham as well as being a senior Wales International.  I’ve also played lower level semi-pro football (Steps 4-8). I’m FA level 1 qualified in coaching Football and Futsal, with this season being my first season managing and coaching the UK Diabetes Squad.

Mostly excited and a little relieved. After months of planning the project, fundraising, training the team and selecting the squad we’re almost there. It’s been a whirlwind of a year since the last tournament but I’m so proud I’ll be going back this year as our Player Manager. This project really demonstrates the ability of those living with Diabetes and it’s an honour to represent our country and condition.

Everything…. I can’t believe the journey I’ve had with this community and how far it’s come. From an idea in my head 2 and a half years ago to the creation and development of something very very special. The things we’ve achieved together as a community has astounded me at times and I’m just so grateful I’ve had the chance to meet and help so many people with the condition since we formed this organisation.

My message to others with the condition would be that if you can work with your diabetes, educate yourself, believe in the dream and have the bravery to test your limits, there’s nothing you can’t achieve whilst living with this lifelong condition. It’s an extra hurdle to jump, not a mountain to climb.

Squad Announcement: Jon Tyrrell

Photo 14-07-2019, 15 18 37I am Jon Tyrrell, 33 years-old and I have had Type 1 Diabetes for 18 years.

I’ve played futsal for Bristol City, West London and Sheffield and lower level semi-pro football (Steps 5-6). I’ve got an FA Level 2 coaching badge and have just begun coaching a bit more futsal.

Excited and nervous. I broke my foot playing futsal 4 months ago so this tournament will be the first time I’ve played competitively since. DiaEuros 2018 was one of the highlights of my year – absolutely loved it. All of the wider squad and staff at TDFC have become great friends and we’re becoming a really close-knit community, so I’m looking forward to being away with everyone for the week. I think the squad is looking in great shape – everyone (particularly those knew to futsal have progressed so much this last year) and there’s been real competition for places leading up to the final squad selection. This will be my second time in Kiev – it’s a great city and I’m excited to see the atmosphere at the games – it was incredible last year. Could be hot though – nearly 40 degrees I reckon!

I think my message to others with the condition would be don’t go it alone, keep doing what you love, be honest about the things you find most difficult with diabetes and keep going through the hard times.

It’s made the world of difference to me to be part of a fun community of people who love football/futsal and also have diabetes. I’ve learned so much from other players but above all really enjoy spending time with all of the gang at TDFC.

Here’s a few specific things I’ve learned directly from chatting to others at TDFC:

  • Learned sport specific information e.g. that playing futsal often causes my sugar levels to shoot up while playing football tends to cause them to drop;
  • Changed both my insulin’s which has made a massive difference to my glucose control;
  • Realised that a lot of other players have the same struggles I do from regular highs and lows, to battling mental health and feeling exhausted by diabetes at times, but it makes a huge difference to know you’re not alone.

Squad Announcement: Toby McCauley

Photo 14-07-2019, 15 19 08I am Toby McCauley. I am 25 years old and I have been Type 1 diabetic for 6 years since June 2013. I have been involved with TDFC for just over a year.

I played at Brighton and Hove Albion FC when I was a youngster until the age of 16 and then had spells with semi professional clubs including Salisbury City in the Conference South, Andover Town, Winchester City and Moneyfields FC.

It’s an incredible honour to be selected for the second consecutive year to represent the UK through Futsal at Diaeuro. I have played in a number of football teams and have never met anyone with type 1 diabetes so being able to play and be part of the tournament meeting others in the same situation with the same condition is fantastic.

It’s an amazing support network bringing diabetics from across the country to play the sport we love and to learn from people’s past experiences with diabetes. Having Type 1 diabetes doesn’t have to hold you back, you can live life to the full and accomplish your ambitions. There are absolutely no limits! We hope to inspire you all in our journey to follow your dreams within football, futsal or your chosen sport.

Squad Announcement: Ian Dingwall

Photo 14-07-2019, 15 18 16I am Ian Dingwall, 28 years-old and I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2012.

I’ve been playing football at amateur level for years in different leagues within Scotland. I have played junior level for a few teams but this was for a short time.  I have also coached kids at numerous ages which I enjoyed but trying to do this between my own training and a full time job proved difficult. 

First of all I’m proud and thankful that I have impressed enough in training to get the opportunity to play for and represent the UK. Being the first Scottish player to be selected is a big thing for me and something I am also proud of.  I’m feeling very excited and optimistic about the DiaEuro in Kiev.  I’ve watched videos of the other countries and I feel we have a strong enough squad to go and compete. I’m a positive person and feel being positive going into the matches is key to gaining the results we want!

The most enjoyable things about TDFC for me is having the ability to exchange stories with people suffering the same issues as me. Obtaining the knowledge of how other people deal with hypos and treatments. Its a very educational and enjoyable thing to be involved in.  My message to any other type 1 diabetics that are in involved in sport is don’t hide it, talk about your condition to not only help your education of the illness but educate others.  Don’t be ashamed of diabetes because with the right management it can’t hold you back!