Sarina Wiegman with her arm around Elise Packwood, the pair are both smiling and looking directly at the camera.

Elise Packwood met Sarina Wiegman, who has been the England women's football team's manager since 2021

A teenager with autism is hoping to inspire other neurodiverse sports people after representing England at international futsal events.

Elise Packwood, 19, plays for the England Deaf Futsal team, which was set up by the Football Association after it decided there were more international opportunities, external for the England Deaf Women’s team playing futsal than the traditional 11-a-side football format.

The teenager from Marston Moretaine, Bedfordshire, said she had experienced bullying in some sports teams before joining the national deaf side.

She said: "I've been putting up with girls that are rude and bullying, all I have to say is focus on yourself... Your coach is there for you, they can put things in place for you, you know what your rights are."

She added: "The girls are very accepting from the deaf squad, because if you find somebody with the exact same thing as you, [you] feel like it's another family and it's so much easier.

"With my autism it's quite hard to deal with conversations, especially in my local mainstream team... People don't know why you're stuttering and make fun of you all the time."

Elise Packwood sitting on a floor which has an England football badge painted on it.

Elise Packwood has been taking part in qualifying matches for the European Deaf Futsal Championship

The teenager said she suffers with a speaking disorder, a learning disorder and memory impairments.

"Since I just wanted to focus on myself and help others who have the exact disability as I do to show them it's OK, you can follow your dreams and not listen to others."

She is currently taking part in qualifying matches for the European Deaf Futsal Championship, which is due to take place in 2026.

Ms Packwood said: "When we first did a match they have the national anthem which is such an amazing experience.

"It's such a weird feeling, it's hard to describe it until you actually go there, it's an amazing feeling, an amazing experience, I was just so happy to be there."


From BBC




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