Making Football More Inclusive: How Northern Counties Students Became NUFC Mascots

Students from Northern Counties had the amazing opportunity to become mascots at the Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur match in April. This was all thanks to Sela's and RNID's #UnsilenceTheCrowd Project.

Some of our Northern Counties School students had the privilege of being a part of the #UnsilenceTheCrowds Project from Sela and deafness charity RNID, which aims to make football and live sport more accessible for deaf people.

As part of that project, Newcastle United’s front-of-shirt sponsor Sela introduced a ground breaking new haptic shirt which enabled deaf fans to feel the atmosphere of the crowd through vibrations. These shirts transform the noise of the stadium into real-time touch sensation, and will be available for deaf fans at all future Newcastle United games.

RNID found that 71% of people surveyed who are deaf, and have hearing loss, believe new technology can be used to improve the matchday experience and make live sporting events more accessible. 

Through this project, some of our Northern Counties students were able to try out these new shirts and join Newcastle United on the pitch for their Premier League game against Tottenham Hotspur in April.

Ahead of the game, the students got the chance to meet Dan Burn and Kieran Trippier for a game of kickabout, which you can see in the video below:

During this initial meeting for a kick about, football players Dan Burn and Kieran Trippier learned a few British Sign Language signs and promised to use them during the match. This came to life on Saturday, where during their 4 winning goals, players did the sign for ‘For the Fans’ towards the cameras. Our students were overjoyed, and this has been captured in a viral moment where you can see Ciaran show his excitement to his grandmother.

It was truly a magical day, one which the students will never forget. They felt included and honoured to be there, experiencing a football match like never before, first walking out with the players as mascots, then experiencing the match in a whole new way through vibrations.

Ciaran said that the shirts made him feel more confident at the match and more involved, as he explained how the shirts worked by vibrating on different sides corresponding to the teams. For example, it vibrates on the front to represent Newcastle’s goals and audience reaction, and the back to represent Tottenham’s.


Newcastle United are making huge steps towards inclusivity, with St James Park also including sensory rooms to help those with disabilities. Football is at the heart of Newcastle, and it’s lovely to see how everyone is valued and included.

We once again thank Sela, RNID and the Newcastle United Foundation for involving our students in the #UnsilenceTheCrowd project. We also thank the media outlets who have captured the joy over the match day, who include Sky Sports, Football at TNT, Radio Newcastle and more.


See a video roundup of the day and our student’s reactions below: