Fırat Kaya is the first hearing-impaired footballer to don a jersey in any professional Turkish league. The 24-year-old has drawn praise for his rising performance with Tokatspor of the second-tier Spor Toto 1. Lig. Kaya, who also plays for the Turkish national team for hearing-impaired footballers, joined the Tokatspor from Germany's Schwabisch Hall in the January transfer window. The German-born Turkish player won the hearts of fans with his last goal against Sivas Belediyespor over the weekend, with his team struggling to remain in the second league where it is currently situated at the bottom.
Kaya started his amateur football career while he was 15, playing for five different German teams before joining Tokatspor to become the first hearing-impaired player in the Turkish league.
"Playing without hearing is not a problem. I want to become a voice for hearing-impaired players who hesitate to play. I have many friends playing very good but they are reluctant to have a career, fearing they would have problems. I tell them you can achieve what you want and be an amateur or professional player," Kaya said. He signed a short-term contract with Tokatspor, for only five months but his goal is to reach the Turkish Süper Lig.
"I scored my first goal against Sivas Belediyespor and there is more to come," he says. The player says though he cannot hear the voices of his fellow players or coach, his hearing loss does not impact hearing the sound of referee's whistle and it is easy for him to read the lips of other players during the game. His coach Koray Palas praised the young footballer and said he easily integrated into the team. "It is a pleasure to have a player like him. He gives a great synergy for the team. We don't have any communication problem and we are only required to notify referees before the games about his condition," he said.