Kruger to play in the US of A

Laidley's Justeen Kruger is raising funds so that she can compete in Deaf Football Australia's Women's Squad for the Internationals vs World Champions in Denver, Colorado. Picture: JACOB HAYDEN

Laidley footballer Justeen Kruger is seeking community support to pay her way to play in Deaf Football Australia (DFA) Women’s Squad for the Internationals vs World Champions in Denver, Colorado.

The DFA team will play on 30 May and June 1 in a double header against the USA team, the World Deaf Football Championships winners of 2023.

Kruger previously played for SWQ Thunder with 80 games under her belt, and is now the keeper for North Brisbane FC in the FQPL 2 competition

Despite being hearing impaired, last year she was nominated Goalkeeper of the Year and made Team of the Season.

Kruger, 36, has played football since she was 10 years old, and only learned she had a hearing impairment at 27.

“My mates, when I was up in Chinchilla, always used to laugh because if you were to speak behind me and I wasn’t looking at you, I wouldn’t hear,” she said.

“When you’re hearing impaired, the mind’s an amazing thing and you are really good at guessing words, therefore I can make up some pretty good conversations in my head.”

Kruger said hearing was extremely important in soccer, and in the past had trouble adapting to a new team because of her disability.

“Last year, starting for a new team, I didn’t recognise anyone’s voice,” she said.

“When you play with a team you can adapt, but when you hear a new voice it could be the opposition, it could be your team.

“You’ve got to have your ears switched on.

“I don’t play with my hearing aids in, so I’m very good at checking over my shoulder and knowing what to do next, hopefully fast enough to make the right call.”

She said she looked forward to playing alongside women with similar skills.

“There are girls that have cochlear implants, so there’s a range of hearing,” Kruger said.

“You’ve really got to adapt with everyone’s style of play.

“If you’re going to give someone the ball they need to be aware and looking all the time.

“It’s quite amazing what you see people do, knowing the runs they’ve got to make, when and where.”

For Kruger, playing against the USA will be the opportunity of a lifetime and could lead to further opportunities like competing in future World Deaf Football Championships.

In order to make the opportunity a reality she began fundraising last week, selling socks and raffle tickets with prizes from various Lockyer Valley businesses.

“I need to fundraise for the flight over there, which can be anywhere between $2,000 and $3,000, and I’ve got to get myself to Sydney and back, and cover insurance,” she said.

“We don’t get help, there’s no grants around, so to grow the game, on a deaf level, for us it will be good.”

Socks are being sold at $10 a pair at Eyecare Plus Gatton and BA Accounting and Advisory.

The raffle is currently estimated to be worth $500, with prizes from Queensland National Hotel Laidley, Mitre 10 Laidley, Fine Lines Barber Hair Beauty, Falvey’s Hotel Gatton, Fractured Wood BBQ Australia, Supercheap Auto Gatton, Royal Hotel Gatton, The Hen House Cafe and Catering Plainland, Snap Fitness Plainland and more businesses.

Kruger said she would be selling raffle tickets at local pubs and hotels, and would advertise when and where she would be on local community Facebook groups.

Businesses and donors wanting to lend their support to Kruger’s campaign can contact her on 0405 248 192.