'Don't let disability hold you back': Flintshire footballer Dylan's advice after beating the odds

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Staff reporter (Leader Live)

A young man who has achieved sporting success after battling serious illness, disability and bullying has urged others to follow their goals – no matter what the circumstances. 

Dylan Rixon, 21, of Buckley, was left with hearing problems and a low heart rate after contracting meningitis when aged two, but he used his passion for football to build up his confidence and he now plays for the Everton Deaf FC.

“When I was growing up, I felt like I was limited in what I could do. A lot of activities and school trips weren’t really catered to my medical issues, and I always felt like certain things weren’t accessible to me,” he said.

With the help of a hearing aid, Dylan has regained hearing in his right ear but is completely deaf in his left. 

“When I lost my hearing after getting ill, I really struggled to learn how to pronounce and hear words because I was only two at the time and had just started to speak properly. Thanks to my hearing aid I can hear out of my left ear, but I do still struggle every now and then.”

Despite complaining of experiencing bullying while playing football when he was younger, Dylan has always been passionate about the sport and played for Buckley and a five-a-side team before joining Everton Deaf.

“I’ve been playing with them for two years now, and I enjoy every second of it,” he said.

“I’ve also been coaching a local children’s football team at Mold Alexandra FC for five years, and really enjoy seeing the kids working as a team and enjoying themselves.

In 2014, Dylan started a British Sign Language and deaf learning foundation degree in Coleg Llandrillo Menai’s Rhos-on-Sea campus and is now hoping to help other young deaf people once he graduates in July.

In the run-up to Adult Learners’ Week from June 19 to 25, Dylan is supporting a campaign to promote Skills Gateway for Adults – a Welsh Government service providing adults with careers information, support, advice and guidance on how to improve their skills and employability.

Growing up, Dylan felt like there were not enough activities for young people with hearing loss, but says sport helped him feel included.

Dylan currently works part-time at the Beaufort Park Hotel in New Brighton near Mold. But after graduating in July he hopes to use his skills to work with deaf people and organise events.

He said:  “There are events for deaf people now and then, but I really want to make sure there are frequent ongoing events so that people don’t feel excluded and bored like I did when I was younger.

“I think it’s important for people with hearing loss to feel like they are part of a community and that they can come to a social event that caters to their needs and feel included.

“I also want to use sport to help deaf people and help them to enjoy it, as I know it can sometimes be a challenge. I struggled with sport initially because of my low heart rate, but my passion helped be to grow in confidence and I hope to do the same for other people in my situation as well.”

Welsh Government Minister for Skills and Science, Julie James, said: “Adult Learners’ Week provides everybody across Wales with the opportunity to re-engage with learning and develop new and valuable skills, whether they want to up-skill for work or simply want to learn something new – you can learn from home, in the workplace, university or in your local community.

“There are no age or time restrictions when it comes to learning and education, so if you have been thinking about boosting your knowledge and skills by taking up something new, everyone is welcome to get involved with Adult Learners’ Week by joining a free learners’ event in their area on anything from first aid to digital photography.” 

For more information on Adult Learners’ Week, visit www.careerswales.com/skillsgateway, call 0800 028 4844 or follow @skillsgatewaycw.

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