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Jack Castelijns, deaf to obstacles

Jack Castelijns plays for Danish club Vanløse IF in 2nd Division as a striker. This season, he's already found the net six times and is a key member of the squad. So far, the story is not different than any other player of third tier football. Except Jack is deaf, which had and has an impact on his career. Let us tell you his story.

Jack Castelijns celebrating with his club Vanløse IF in 2nd Division, Denmark

Svend Bertil Frandsen
From Denmark

Jacobus A. C. Castelijns - or just Jack Castelijns – is one of the key profiles for Vanløse IF in the Danish 2nd division. He is Dutch, he is 32 years old and also the club's leading goalscorer. And then he is deaf.

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Jack was born deaf just like his big sister, but had a dream of a career as a professional footballer already when he started playing at 12. Today he can already look back on an impressive career. He was leading goalscorer at the 2014 European Deaf Futsal Championships with 18 goals, and the year after he was leading goalscorer for Holland at the World Deaf Football Championships in Thailand, netting 14 times.

But due to his handicap it hasn´t been a career without problems, says Jack who moved to Denmark - and joined B93 - in 2014, to live with a Danish girlfriend he was dating back then.

Interpreter plays key role

"When I was younger I had no problems but later when I wanted to get into the 1st team (while playing in Holland) it was not that easy. The coach thought it was difficult to communicate with me and wanted me to prove myself in the reserve team and build experience. Another obstacle was that I did not have an interpreter in the Netherlands and therefore missed out on the social part of being part of the team", tells Jack Castelijns to mycujoo.

Today an interpreter plays a big part in Jack's interaction with coaches and players at Vanløse IF. "We have an interpreter during training and during matches, and that's the way we communicate with Jack", explains Jesper Holdt, coach of Vanløse IF. "During training it's no problem while it's more difficult during matches because everything takes place at a different pace and you don’t have the same time to get in contact with him, says Jesper Holdt and elaborates.
"Occasionally, I stand and wave like crazy on the sidelines because I want him to look at the interpreter. And then often, I hand a message to one of the other players who can then get in contact with him, but there is not always time for that"

Communicating at a high pace

Jack, who apart from playing for Vanløse works two jobs - one job as a teacher for deaf students, and another where he is involved in movies for deaf people - agrees that communicating during matches can be a challenge: "We always make fixed agreements on what to do in certain situations. We also review it with the interpreter at tactical meetings. If the coach shouts at me during the match, my teammates will give me a message and then I look at the sidelines to find out what is said through an interpreter", details Jack.

One thing is to communicate with your coach and team-mates. Another is to do it with the opponents and the referee. Not an easy thing to overcome but Jack takes it in his stride: "Some opponents may occasionally try to provoke me with my lack of hearing, make faces or do something different. But my teammates are then quick to back me up and ask them to show respect. And I don’t want to lose my concentration over such things",.

Improving relations with referees

Last season Jack was handed around ten yellow cards by referees who possibly misunderstood his body language during matches. However, this year he is still to receive his first yellow card.

"All referees are different, some do not have a problem where others perceive my body language as aggressive. So, some might get angry but others know that when I do not speak with my voice I use my body language instead. But the referees are always informed before the match that I'm deaf and that has worked very well so far", he explains.

Today Jesper Boldt, coach of Vanløse IF is full of praise of his 32-year old Dutch striker who arrived at the club in 2015 from B93. "We were in no doubt that he had the level for 2nd division when he arrived. Although he is the oldest player in the squad, he is the best in physical tests, and he really has a burning desire to play football. His handicap may have sharpened some of his other senses and, for example, he has an incredible eye for the game. So we are very happy that he decided to play for us", ends Jesper Boldt.

Watch the Denmark 2nd Division on mycujoo