Skip to main content
Published 09 May 2024 6 min read
England Para Teams

Henry Bowe fulfilling grassroots coach’s prediction

Written by:

Frank Smith

England deaf men's defender discusses his journey during Deaf Awareness Week 2024

There will be grassroots coaches across the country who every now and then will come across a special young player who they believe has the potential to one day represent their country at a major tournament. And in the case of Chellaston Boys FC and Henry Bowe, the coach was right.

Bowe was one of 20 players selected by England Deaf Men for the World Deaf Football Championships last year and as we enter Deaf Awareness Week 2024, the Para Lions defender has been speaking about his football journey so far..

It all started in the seaside town of Skegness for Bowe – literally and metaphorically.

“I can’t remember exactly when I fell in love with football but my parents tell stories about how I always used to love playing football,” explained Bowe.

“We used to go to Skegness when I was younger and I would watch the groups of boys playing football and would want to join in. I was quite a shy guy so my mum would have to go and ask if her son could play and they would always say I was more than welcome.

“So I would play with them but when the ball was passed to me, I would pick the ball up so from that moment, my mum told my dad ‘Henry wants to play football’ so they took me to JJB.”

The England Deaf Men's squad flew out to Malaysia last year for the World Deaf Football Championships
The England Deaf Men's squad flew out to Malaysia last year for the World Deaf Football Championships

From the age of five, every Sunday Bowe would attend the Derby County Community Trust-led sessions at JJB.

And two years later, Bowe’s family decided to enrol him at grassroots club Chellaston Boys FC and he made an immediate impact.

Bowe explained: “My first memory of [competitive] football would be that first game for Chellaston Boys. In the first game, I played up front and I scored three goals, so I obviously made a good first impression!

“I did really well that season and halfway through the season I got scouted by Nottingham Forest and I went to play for them.

“I was really impressed with myself, being a deaf child and going to play for them.

“Communication was quite difficult and my mum used to be the interpreter so I have always appreciated what my mum did for me when I was younger. Every Tuesday night, in the freezing cold, she would be sat next to the coach and would be signing and interpreting for me.”

Bowe’s talent led to him being invited to join the England Deaf pathway at the age of 14, when the focus was still primarily on Futsal rather than the eleven-a-side game.

He progressed to the Under-21 side and by the age of 16 had already trained with the senior England Deaf Futsal team, before a dislocated knee set him back temporarily.

The defender has become a key member of the Para Lions squad
The defender has become a key member of the Para Lions squad

The switch to eleven-a-side football was to follow and once again Bowe progressed to the Para Lions’ development side before reaching the senior England team.

Now 24, Bowe went on to represent England at the World Deaf Football Championships for the first time in 2023 – something which won’t come as a surprise to his old coach at Chellaston Boys FC.

“When I was younger and playing for Chellaston Boys, I remember the manager wrote little biographies for each of the players because we were playing in a final and in mine he said he thought I had the potential to play for the England Deaf team in the future," he recalled.

“And I have done it. I have proved it."

Disability football near you