Barbara’s story

My name is Barbara, 31 years old and active at Club Brugge as Foundation Officer. Until last season I was also playing in the Superleague at Club Brugge, now active as physical coach at the women’s second team.

My story is about discrimination due to a physical disability, hearing impairment. I was born with it and have been wearing hearing aids since the age of 5. My hearing aids, because they were an external object, I was not allowed to wear during football matches.  

My story dates back to March 2013, when I was playing for the second team of Club Brugge. The season before, I played for the first team but had to take a step back because I was ‘not good enough’. In season 2012-2013 in the 2nd team, we had a fantastic year and even won the championship. In March 2013, we played an important match against our direct opponent, our team played a fantastic match and many players from the first team came to watch. After the winning match, there was a lot of talk about the match and people asked, among other things, why I didn’t play for the first team then. My mother was there and then a (adult) player from the first team, who did have something to say in her team, said: ‘Because she can’t hear us’. My mother deliberately did not react to this. When she told me, I was disappointed that this was still being said in 2013.

I have only talked about it with my parents and a few friends. We did start to find out if there was a possibility to play with hearing aids. Thanks to technology, there were already models that could be worn while playing football, and so it happened. The new hearing aids gave me a boost of self-confidence and I played even better, determined to get back into the first team as soon as possible. The following season, I became a full member of the first team again and never left it. With my hearing impairment, I was even captain for a few years. At the moment, as a physical coach, I always try to treat the players the way I would have liked to be treated back then, without prejudice and with the necessary respect. 

This little incident has only made me stronger and formed the person I am today. But most of all, don’t let anyone make you do it and speak with your feet. If you really want to achieve something, you will! 

As a Foundation Officer, I can only be excited about a programme like ‘Show Racism The Red Card’. There is no place for racism and discrimination in the world. Treat someone the way you want to be treated!  

Stay informed

Subscribe to our newsletter and stay informed.