In the space of three months after Fulham Deaf Football Club Open Trial Day on 7th June, the squad is now ready to face the upcoming season with high confidence. At the Fulham Deaf Football Club Open Trial Day, over fifty deaf footballers came to show off their skills and grit to make the squad, which gave me a welcome selection headache. Since then, I have trimmed the squad down to twenty-five deaf footballers, seven of which are internationals for Great Britain Deaf Football. They all proved themselves over four friendlies in which we won three and lost one. The best performance was against AC Malden in which we won 6 – 0 where we dominated the match for 80 minutes against a team two divisions above us.

The other friendlies resulted in a flattering 4 – 2 victory against Bexleyheath Deaf FC which was the first time we had played together as a team, a 2 – 3 defeat against Old Ruts which was a disappointment alas a learning experience for the lads. The final friendly held last Sunday resulted in a sounding 4 – 2 win with two goals in each half for Fulham Deaf FC. The most difficult aspect of the pre-season for me was informing those who did not make the final squad as they had all worked hard and gave their best. It was just a case of having to make a tough decision for the best of the squad and the club. I'd just like to mention at this point, we are always on the look out for new deaf and hard-of-hearing footballers for the club. At present, we have a good mixture of young and experienced footballers and I would like to develop a youth team in the long-term future to ensure the club's continunity and growth. So if you are deaf or hard-of-hearing, get in touch with us irrespective of your age, please.

This season we shall be competing in five competitions. Our main priority is to gain promotion in the Kingston & District Football League Division II in our inaugural season. Fulham Deaf FC shall be competing in four cup competitions, the Kingston & District Football League Teck Intermediate Cup, the Kingston & District Football League Cave Cup, The British Deaf Sports Council Deaf Cup and the English Deaf Football Cup.

In the British Deaf Sports Council Deaf Cup we are drawn against either Black Country Deaf FC or the 2003 champions Doncaster Deaf FC littered with several international Deaf footballers. A possible mouth-watering match so early in the competition but we shall have to wait for the preliminary round between these two teams to be played first though!

Fulham Deaf FC shall be playing their home fixtures at the Hawker Centre, Lower Ham Road, off Richmond Road, Kingston KT2 5BH. Please do feel free to come and support us as although we might be a deaf football team, we shall still hear and see the noise you make. I have no doubt we would appreciate the support. We will play mostly on Saturday afternoons, so please double check with our secretary Nick Beese beforehand.

I would like to thank Gary Mulcahey, the Fulham FC Community Officer who has contributed so much in the development of our new club. After much persistence from Gary, I granted him a special honour of being the only hearing footballer to guest for Fulham Deaf FC in our last friendly but unfortunately he didn't score to avoid buying me a pint after the match!

As it will be my first stint as manager of a football club, I am really excited about the upcoming season. I have played football myself for several clubs over the years and it does feel strange to be on the touchline managing a team instead of playing! While I never quite had it in myself to achieve a high standard in playing football, I trust my football knowledge to do it for me in managing and coaching the lads to success in our inaugural season.

Whether this success will happen or not, you'll just have to follow our progress throughout the season but I am not going to do a 'Wenger' and say something ludicrous like saying “we'll never lose a match this season”! Instead, I'll just say I'm proud of how hard my lads have worked and conducted themselves in pre-season and if they are anything to go by in pre-season, I am quietly confident they'll bring success to Fulham Deaf FC.

Four days to go before our football season kick off against West End FC, I cannot wait for the referee's whistle to blow for our inaugural season to start. Football has always been in my blood and whatever the season bring us, be it the highs or lows, I will treasure them in my later years.

By the way, I'd still like more highs than lows all the same thank you!

Yours in football, Christof Niklaus

Fulham Deaf Football Club Manager