Wearside’s Aidan Douglas to represent England

Wearside Golf Club’s Aidan Douglas will represent England in 2022. The 26-year-old will be pulling on a golf shirt – rather than a football one as he had once hoped – for his country as he makes a fast-track debut in the World Golf Deaf Championships in Hawaii.

A talented young footballer, Aidan played for Sunderland and Durham County, and was attracting the attention of England selectors and professional clubs, including Blackburn.

However, when he was 18, he contracted bacterial meningitis and was rushed into hospital in December 2013 – a month later he would be asked to sign for Blackburn.

Despite recovering, it became clear Aidan would not be able to continue his football career after losing his hearing and requiring a cochlear implant, which helps him hear electronically.

“I’m 100% deaf when it’s switched off,” said Aidan, “but with it on, I can lip read and put the sounds and words together to be able to converse quite well. As it’s a surgically implanted electronic device inside my head, I was advised to avoid contact sports, so my football career was at an end.”

Aidan then decided to take up golf seriously having played a little with his dad, Roy. While he found he could strike the ball well enough, his balance was badly affected by his illness.

“I’d lose balance after every shot, but I learned that as long as I’m striking the ball well and the ball goes where I want it to, my balance can take me wherever and I’ll try to manage that as best as I can,” he added.

Aidan paid tribute to Wearside for supporting him and making him welcome. He added: “I only started to take the game seriously when I officially joined Wearside about two years ago. My handicap was 20 at the beginning of last season and came down to around 12. This season, I went from 12 to 4.7.”

Aidan also played in an England Deaf Golf event last season – finishing runner-up at Hollins Hall and attracting the attention of selectors.

“I guess you could say it’s a bit of a dream come true. I would have loved to have played football for England, but I’m looking forward to wearing an England shirt as a golfer.”