The female footballer with a CI who plays for Spanish champions


©Sergey Galushko -

Making a career out of women's football in a male-dominated sports world is hard enough, but cochlear-implant-wearing Eunate Arraiza has ably met the even tougher challenge of reaching the elite with profound hearing loss.

The referees know she wears implants. So do the fans. She won the highest Spanish women's league (Liga Iberdrola) in the 2015/2016 season as an Athletic Bilbao player, where she has been for seven years. But while at her former club, third-tier CD Lagunak (Navarra), the refs did not know she has a hearing problem, and she got yellow-carded for carrying on playing long after the whistle was blown!

Eunate, now 27 and with a cap for Spain, was diagnosed at two-years-old with profound bilateral hypoacusis. From a football-loving family, she spent years with a ball at her feet when not on visits to hearing care and speech specialists at the Navarra University Clinic and the GAES Foundation. Eventually, she was given cochlear implants, and her quest to succeed in football was enabled.

"I have to make three times the effort of others in sport, work, and studies, but I try to do so every day, and it's not a problem," she told the Spanish daily, El País

Eunate, now awaiting new surgery four years from now, said "When they gave me the implant I said 'wow, how well I hear with this! For me, it's just another organ in my body. It forms part of it," she affirms.

"I play at left-back, and I have to make a big effort to understand what my colleage is telling me from the wing, or whoever is behind me," she adds.

Meanwhile, Eunate and colleagues continue to win more equal treatment for the female version of their sport. "Games are shown on TV, and the media is more interested. We are even going to be on stickers." she says, adding "I know it is difficult but we have to make strides towards equality."

Source: El País