Sanders sets Sofia Games as next target
FORMER Hayle and Penzance Ladies footballer Gemma Sanders may have already followed in the footsteps of her hero David Beckham by representing her country – but now the 22-year-old hopes to realise another dream this year by appearing at the Sofia 2013 Deaflympics.
Following the incredible success of last year's Olympics and Paralympics in London, Sanders will be hoping to play her part in bringing gold home for Great Britain.
Football is one of 20 sports taking place at this summer's Games, which open in Sofia, Bulgaria, on July 26.
And Sanders, who now plays for Launceston, is firmly in contention to play for GB, having already helped the team finish third in last year's European Cup in Bulgaria. She also earned her first England cap in 2012 as the Three Lions finished sixth in the Deaf Five-a-Side European Cup.
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Sanders' participation will, however, depend on raising enough funds for the trip. She has already raised more than £1,000 thanks to generous donations on her web page, www.everyclick.com/gsanders. However, she is still some way off raising the £3,600 needed for Sofia 2013.
She said: "I need to raise about £2,000 now. That covers insurance, hotel, flight, kit, food, training facilities, physio etc.
"I've worked so hard for this and wanted to make this happen, and make family, friends, and of course GB proud. I will not give up my dream, and I am willing to make all the effort and everything I can for the next seven months."
Sanders was born profoundly deaf, but that has not halted her progress in playing the sport she loves.
She explained: "I'm really good at lip reading and communicate with people really well when they are facing me so I can lip read.
"Five years ago I started BSL (British Sign Language) to communicate with other deaf people who can't communicate well."
Sanders, a Chelsea fan, has played football since the age of seven. She started playing at adult level in 2007 when she made her debut for Penzance Ladies at the age of 17. The striker, who can also play in defence, joined Hayle Ladies in 2010, before signing for Launceston last year.
Away from football Sanders is a senior support worker, having spent five years at Launceston College and then completing a Sports Science Management degree at Cornwall College.
She said: "I work most of the time to pay for my GB travelling expense, and I do football coaching with children. When I have free time, I do my own fitness training."
Sanders remains firmly focused on achieving her goals, with former England star Beckham providing her biggest inspiration.
She said: "I look up to Beckham because he has a good attitude. He has great passion, I just want be like him one day. I set myself one target: dream it, believe it, achieve it."
To make a donation visit her web page, www.everyclick.com/gsanders