Meet Athletic Club’s Eunate Arraiza, the most special one female pro footballer

Eunate Arraiza is an Athletic Club female pro footballer who features UEFA’s Equal Game campaign as the most important European football governor reflects on a special story every month, being Eunate’s turn.

We may define her -and we do- as the most special one female pro football player in Spain as she is the only deaf female footballer who takes part in a pro competition such as ‘Liga Iberdrola’

She was diagnosed with a hearing impairment at just two years old and Eunate has to push harder than any other female player in the top competition to fulfil her dream of becoming an Special One Football Club Athletic Club player. She also targets this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in France to make her inspiring story even more special.

Eunate is now aged 27 and she grew up in the village of Biurrun in Navarre, just 121.84 km away from Bilbao. Her profound hearing disability never deterred her along the journey of Eunate’s life, just as Athletic Club footballer expresses on this story.

“I suffer from complete hearing loss in my left ear, because that’s where I had less residual hearing,” Eunate explains. She had a hearing aid for her left ear until the age of eight, when it was replaced by a cochlear implant hearing aid – a device inserted in the ear. “I have had two devices,” she says. “The previous one was a small pouch with a cable and a magnet. The one that I have now doesn’t have a pouch. It’s a magnet with an earpiece above my ear.”

Eunate has experienced succeess reigning in the the Spanish domestic league and qualifying for the UEFA Women’s Champions League. “It was beautiful and unique,” she recalls. “I remember the last game, when the final whistle blew, the first thing I did was cry with emotion.”

“I remember all the people with scarves, flags and hats asking for pictures and autographs. We paraded the cup in an open-top bus. It was incredible… it gave me goosebumps.”

The Champions League appearance was another dream come true. “We were unlucky to fall sort in the first round. But it was an experience – I would like to play again in the competition.”

Eunate is able to carify her feelings when she is on the pitch, specially if there is a heavy rain or a storm. “When my teammates or my coach talk directly to my face,” she says, “I understand them perfectly. But when they talk to me from behind, I can hear they are talking to me, but I don’t understand the crucial information they are trying to put across.”

She describes her hearing aid as “like another part of my body. I only take it out when I’m sleeping or taking a shower.” She says. “Other than that, I have it in place all day. When I go to train, I put in the hearing aid, it goes above the ear, and then I put my hair in a ponytail.”

This special story matches with the positive football promotion that UEFA pursues as organization as Eunate explains. “No one has ever said anything to me about my issue. Actually, people have told me that I deserve a lot of credit because, ultimately, I ended up playing for Athletic Club.”