Football 4 Everyone project
Level Playing Field are delighted to launch the findings of our research project ‘Football for Everyone’ which aimed to raise awareness of the positive benefits of both accessing and taking part in leisure activities for disabled groups.
Going to a game of football can quite simply be life changing for a disabled person and we have many testimonies of how following football has had such a positive effect on the life of a disabled person, offering a sense of belonging, pride, passion and belief but through discussions with disabled people at regional events, via our helplines, and at other awareness events organised with Everton, Tottenham Hotspur and Wigan. However, we felt that many people are unaware of the choices available and we wanted to identify the existing perceived barriers and develop an accessible tool kit for newly disabled people to encourage social interaction through leisure activities.
With a grant from the Big Lottery Fund, and working with partners at Wolverhampton Wanderers FC, Stadium Communities, the Deansfield Community School, the National Star College and Penn Hall School, we appointed a researcher/workshop leader (Miranda Walker) and a team of schoolchildren investigators who went out to interview both newly disabled people and those with existing disabilities with the aim to explore and identify any perceived barriers or lack of information about how to access services and facilities.
The project has brought together non-disabled and disabled individuals to learn from one another sharing common experiences of the issues of isolation and the ways in which access to live sport can increase well being.
• Pupils from Deansfield Community School have benefitted hugely in terms of disability awareness, which was entirely new to the majority. They have also had the opportunity to meet and interact with many disabled people, and to visit specialist settings. This has had an important impact on their social and emotional development and skills, and their future citizenship.
• Interviewees from the National Star College and Penn Hall School benefitted from the opportunity to meet and interact with pupils from a mainstream school and lasting links between the settings and individual young people were made. This makes a difference to the social development of the young people, and opens the door for future partnership working between the specialist and mainstream settings.
The outcomes from the research have resulted in a set of posters and top tips which highlight the issues faced and what can be done to overcome these. The children have also captured the stories and experiences from the interviews into case studies on the difference it's made to their lives. You can access the copies of these by clicking on the links at the bottom of the page.
Finally, the project team have written, produced and recoded an audio play entitled ‘Mean to You’ about their experiences which will receive it’s first public airing today at the launch.
LPF aims to seek further funding to develop the project further but in the meantime we have been delighted to be leading on this important project. We hope that the case studies and top tips will benefit the community of disabled people who do not currently attend football but may be inspired to do so as a result of the project. This will make the many well-being benefits of attending football available to them. We also hope that the wider football community will also benefit through an increased understanding of what football means to disabled football fans, and an insight into what can be done to strengthen the experience currently provided by football clubs. A level playing field in this respect benefits the whole community, both disabled and non-disabled.