The sound of silence
The first time that I saw Tegan Blanch playing soccer, I knew I was watching a person blessed with natural sports talent.
Playing in goals for Lismore Richmond Rovers Women’s Premier Division team, she possesses great hands, good positional play and is fearless. These are all traits that every team looks for in their custodian because a competent, positive goalkeeper has a significant influence on overall performance.
In the recent final of the Women’s Callan McMillan Open A, Tegan played a brilliant game and despite her team being defeated by Alstonville, her individual performance was recognised when she was given the Player of the Match award.
The really inspiring aspect of appreciating Tegan’s exceptional skills came soon after that match, when I became aware that she is profoundly deaf and has worn a cochlear implant since being four years old, although she cannot wear it when playing.
Tegan, who was born in Macksville, celebrates her 21st birthday this week. Spending a short time with her for the purpose of writing this article confirmed yet again that everyone around us has a story to tell.
My immediate question for Tegan, who is proficient at reading lips, was “How difficult is it for you play and communicate with your team mates?” She said, “I must use my eyes and work out what is going on, because I cannot hear my team mates or my coach giving instructions.”
Proving her bubbly nature and quick wit, she also joked that there is some advantage in not being able to hear coach Murray Flower and his dulcet tones on game days.
Since moving to Lismore two years ago, Tegan has become involved with several activities to assist other people with various disabilities. She works at On Focus, an organisation that aims to encourage people to have confidence in themselves, despite some of the obstacles that having a disability can present.
Tegan is adamant that sport has allowed her to make lots of friends and that her disability has motivated her to use her talents and appreciate the opportunities that come with doing that.
In October, Tegan will represent the Australian hearing impaired squash team when they tour New Zealand and will likely meet the significant expense herself, despite no doubt being an outstanding ambassador for sport and a shining example to everyone she meets.