Around the Grounds
Several clubs have already been in contact and told us what they will be doing this year to highlight the work they are doing for disabled supporters. We will continue to update this as and when we receive more information from clubs and / or DSAs.
Here is a selection of what some of the governing bodies/ clubs/ DSA’s are doing:
marked the LPF campaign at their home game with Manchester City on Saturday 29th March. They tweeted their support for the LPF weeks of action and a number of events were planned for around their game v Manchester City on Saturday 29th March including items on LPF/ AFC Disability Liaison Team in the Man City match programme, see page 18 here.
Disappointingly they didn’t get any response at all from the Premier League to a request to have a disabled supporter act as ball carrier before the Manchester City game. Arsenal were also unable to find an Arsenal celebrity to take part in the Audio Commentary for blind and partially sighted supporters.
Arsenal had also planned to organise a Disability Awareness Day for local schools on Tuesday 25th March under the banner of the LPF weeks of campaign. But unfortunately, that had to be cancelled due to a rearranged home game v Swansea City.
Celebrated the LPF Weeks of Action at their fixture on the 15th March against Chelsea by:
- Website news story in the build up to Chelsea fixture
- Programme article in Chelsea match programme
- Pre-match flag parade by AVIDS
- PA announcement pre-match
- Use of giant screens versus Chelsea
- Special Needs Cup Final being played at half-time – Springfield House School versus Langley School
are holding their Level Playing Field Weeks of Action day on Saturday 12th April against Wigan Athletic. Birmingham City plan to do the following to celebrate the Level Playing Field Weeks of Action:
- Disabled Supporters Club – Bucket Collection (Will actually take place on the Saturday prior at the Leeds Utd fixture).
- Programme Article in respect of the Level Playing Field
- DSA members to take part in the half time chip and win competition
- Display a piece on the Big Screen and will again use the LPF logo
The Club used the Match Day Programme on 22 March plus the big screen to publicise this year’s awareness campaign. In addition Blackburn Rovers used flash slides onto the big screen in the ground promoting the LPF Weeks of Action throughout the match.
The club referenced to the Weeks of Action on their Facebook and Twitter pages and the programme article appeared on the Club’s website and included reference to the fact that it was Down’s Syndrome Awareness week.
They get a mention on Radio Rovers as well.
Additionally they invited two competition winners from Sliding Doors, a social group for isolated adults, to the match against Leicester City plus two young people and carers from a residential home.
Bradford City went all out to support their disabled football players and fans.
Bradford Disability Football Club were match sponsors at Bradford City on Saturday 15th March and attended the game with their new sponsor ASDA Keighley as they continue to promote their club, the benefits of sport to disabled players and access for all.
The following article was included in the programme and shows the clubs dedication to supporting its disabled fans. A copy of the latest Bradford Disability FC newsletter celebrating the LPF Weeks of Action can be found here.
had Bristol Deaf FC http://www.bristol-deaf-fc.co.uk/club/239386/Home playing a demonstration game at half time during their game against Port Vale on the 25th March, in support of Level Playing Field Weeks of Action.
Carlisle United invited individuals who took part in the Disabled Football Sessions held by the Cumberland FA, to their home game against Stevenage on the 15th March. They will also had a feature in the match day programme and the atttendees were announced as guests before the match.
Charlton Athletic DSA
The Charlton Athletic Disabled Supporters Association have paid the ticket price for their disabled supporters to attend the recent away match against Ipswich and are doing the same for a further two away matches, against Wigan and Leicester, later in the season.
CADSA annual Quiz Night took place on the 31st January and the proceeds went towards a donation to the local Talking Newspaper Association and the Charlton Athletic Deaf Football Team, as well as the on going improvements to facilities for their disabled supporters.
Details of Derby County’s plans to celebrate the LPF Weeks of Action are as follows;
Derby County v Charlton – 29th March 2014
Derby County Community Trust held a pre-match CP Football Event, prior to the Derby v Charlton match and invited supporters from Charlton to play against supporters from Derby County (included lunch , complimentary tickets to attend the match at the Ipro Stadium and a pitchside team photo.)
One of our Disabled Supporter’s provided a ‘ Match Day’ – in the Life of… article, which was included in their match day programme.
Derby County promoted the LPF Weeks of Action on their website here.
are pleased to support the Level Playing Field (LPF) ‘Weeks of Action’ 2014, which provide a real opportunity to show what the LFP have achieved for disabled football supporters and the wider disabled community, for the full article see here.
ECDSA and ECFC gave their support to the LPF ‘Weeks of Action’ an article was in a match day programme over the 2 weeks of the LPF ‘Weeks of Action’.
Jeanne Jones was presented with her LPF ‘Volunteer of the Year’ award at their home match on 22nd March (ECFC vs. Fleetwood Town). For more information please see the ECDSA website here.
Exeter City and ECDSA organised an event out at the Exeter City training ground (Cat & Fiddle) for its members to attend a Players Training Session and meet the manager and players afterwards on Thursday 3rd April a week after the official LPF ‘Weeks of Action’ to read an article on the event click here.
The FA are backing the LPF Weeks of Action with a website article which can be found here.
Gillingham asked a disabled supporter, James Barnes, to give them his view about being a disabled fan at both home and away games, it can be found on the Gillingham website here. They also ran a competition with two local SEN Schools, Abbey Court School and Danecourt School, to offer two lucky pupils the opportunity to be Matchday Mascots at their next home game against Crewe Alexandra FC. The lucky winners will be treated to a tour of Priestfield Stadium before the game, then have the honour of leading the team on to the pitch before sitting back to enjoy the game with their families. Tickets were also given to both schools for additional pupils to attend the game along with their parents. They also gave tickets to GFC SENtaurs, our disability teams, for the game. A website article on the Gillingham FC website in support of the LPF Weeks of Action can be found here.
LFC hosted a friendship match to celebrate its commitment to equality and inclusion.They have also secured the half time event for the upcoming LFC v Chelsea FC which does fall outside of the LPF Weeks of Action but we will be used to celebrate the event.
Liverpool Football Club will host a friendship match in celebration of LGBT month and the Level Playing Field week of action.
Liverpool FC’s Ability Counts team took on Mersey Marauders FC at the Academy on Sunday 23rd March to celebrate difference.
LFC’s Ability Counts team, which has been running for 11 years, encourages all disabled footballers to join, train and play in competitive matches against other Ability Counts teams across the county.
They have won various titles for LFC including; the Northwest League title, the National FA Cup and in 2010 and 2013 the European Disabled Cup.
Their challengers, Mersey Marauders FC, are Liverpool’s only football team for gay men. The team, which was established in 2005, trains every week and new players of any ability are welcomed. The team joined the national 11-a-side gay football league (GFSN) last season in Division 3 and went on to win it. They have also won the Gay Footballers Support network and are currently top of Division 2 with the hope of being promoted to the top division next season.
Michelle Kirk, LFC’s equality and inclusion advisor, said: “As a Club we ensure that we encourage an inclusive atmosphere for all fans, regardless of the colour of their skin, disability, ethnic origin, religious beliefs or non beliefs and sexual orientation.”
“We are proud to work with LGBT History Month and Level Playing Fields to help remove discrimination and prejudice, and promote the message that everyone should be able to enjoy football.””
Chris Wright, Chairman of Mersey Marauders FC, added: “It’s great for the team to be involved in this game. We are looking forward to the challenge and the experience of playing at the Academy against the LFC Ability Counts team. “It is so important to continue to work towards breaking down prejudicial barriers and increase awareness of the diverse community here in the city and beyond.”
Manchester City DSA
included information on the LPF Weeks of Action in their newsletter. The MCDSA newsleter with information on the LPF Weeks of Action can be found here.
MK Dons’ clash with Sheffield United on the 1st March was designated to host the Club’s fourth ‘Ability Counts Big Day’.
Ability Counts Big Day aims to promote the club’s facilities to current and new disabled supporters while also highlighting the fantastic achievements of the MK Dons Sport and Education Trust’s disability teams and encourage new disabled players to ‘Come and Try’ taster sessions. For more information see here or their poster here. The official MK Dons website has further information here.
A near 50-strong party representing the Newcastle United Disabled Supporters Association (NUDSA) were in the away end at Hull City thanks to the Premier League Away Fans Fund, supporting the LPF Weeks of Action.
The trip was identified early in the season as being the most suitable trip to attend for the supporters with the shortest distance to travel and the most spaces for both wheelchair users and ambulant fans. The trip was funded by the club with transport, tickets and refreshments in the form of a packed lunch provided free of charge together with two members of stewarding staff to accompany the group providing assistance where necessary.
Everyone enjoyed a memorable trip out and the club received positive feedback from those who travelled. The trip was featured in the match day programme at their home fixture with Crystal Palace on the 22nd March 2014. To read the full article on the Newcastle United website click here.
The Ability Counts week is planned for Monday 31st March through to Saturday 5th April, finishing with a Ground Collection at the West Brom game to raise money for Sporting Light Appeal.
Norwich City have been working with AVIVA with regards to the Sporting Light Disability programme they have at the Club and also the support AVIVA continues to give them through their Disability Grand Prix’s. Events include the DSA stadium event, courses on disability awareness, football training for children and adults with a range of disabilities including a weekly powerchair football session, football tournament held at local day centres and SEN schools and an elite disabled footballers course.
Norwich City DSA
Norwich City Disabled Supporters Association are organising the following events:
a Walk & talk event at Carrow Road on Wednesday 2 April 2014 at 7pm. They invited Representatives from a number of Disabled Organisations, plus guests. To give a five minute description of there organisation and what they do. In various parts of the Stadium. Including Player’s Dressing Rooms Press Room Manager’s seating area. With refreshments included. And an opportunity to provide information literature to all present.
A number of Representatives from Disabled organisations, attended the event. The stopping points for talks were as follows: Aviva Ability Counts Viewing Gallery, Barclay Stand, Jarrold Stand, Home dug out, Away dug out, Media Interview Suite, Home Dressing Room, Away Dressing Room, Outside Treatment Room, Press Room.
This was part of the Aviva Ability Counts Awareness Week. Held each season, at Norwich City Football Club. The NCDSA were also offered a visit to the Club’s Training Ground, to watch the First Team train. And get Autographs. Also the Club offered the DSA an Executive Box, for two hours.
Aviva Ability Counts Awareness Week from 1 April to 5 April. They are organising a number of events during the week up to their Home game with West Bromwich Albion. These include:
1. Visit to Colney Training Ground
2. Carrow Road Walk & Talk Night
3. Afternoon Tea in an Executive Box
4. Soccer Sight 1.30pm – 2.45pm match day
5. Aviva Match Buddies 1.30pm – 2.45pm match day
6. Collins Care 1.30pm – 2.45pm match day
7. Level Playing Field 1.30pm – 2.45pm match day.
had their deaf under 12’s and under 16’s squads attend their home game on the 8th March, doing a lap of honour around the track at half time with the trophy they won at a national tournament recently. On the 22nd March they hosted the Adult Learning Disabilities team as guests.
Plymouth Argle DSA
Plymouth Argyle Disabled Supporters Association (PADSA) arranged a PADSA Fan Fest / 5th Birthday Celebration on Saturday March 15 at the CityBus social club on Alma Road between 11.30am and 1.30pm and at their home game against Scunthrope United later that day to highlight the LPF Weeks of Action. For the birthday party the PADSA organised a free pasty lunch and entertainment which included a visit from team players, Chief Executive Martyn Starnes and the stadium manger. Attendees also had the chance to vote for the player of the year who was then awarded the PADSA Shield. Facilitators were there on the day to talk with people about opportunities to get involved and attend more sport, including local sporting clubs that provide sporting opportunities for disabled people such as the YMCA inclusion unit, Special Olympics Plymouth District who are doing demonstrations of Boccia. A raffle also took place. Further information on their 5th birthday can be found in their newsletter here. Photos from the PADSA Fan Fest/ 5th birthday celebrations are available here and a newspaper article here.
promoted the LPF Weeks of Action on their website at http://www.isthmian.co.uk/.
Sheffield United will be using their game on Sat 5th April v Leyton Orient as the game supporting LPF Weeks of Action. Ahead of the game, Jake Sharp met up with United’s Chris Morgan at the Redtooth Academy at Shirecliffe.
Jake is a member of United’s DS Active project and a pupil at Seven Hills School. He has just been named as a Community Foundation Young Disability Ambassador. Chris is United’s Ambassador for the Disabled Supporters and was delighted to meet up with Jake to congratulate him on his new role. to read the full story click here.
Activities on the 5th April include:
– Sheffield United Community Foundation will hold a children’s tournament before the game and they will then attend the game
– Presentation to the winners before the game pitch side
– Pitch parade at half time by disabled supporters
– Invite to Ability Counts League team to come to the game
– Presentation to young disabled volunteer ‘ambassador’
Tottenham Hotspur chose the Southampton game on the 23.3.14 to support the LPF Weeks of Action. The Southampton programme promoted the Level Playing Field “Week of Action” as did the website article here.
The Club recently become a member of the Business Disability Forum
- Last month they delivered the Club’s very own Bespoke Disability Awareness course to match day stewards, see website article here.
- They have appointed an Away Disability Liaison Officer who travels to every away game
- Tottenham Hotspur Foundation recent partnership with Enfield Town Disability Football Team see here.
Match day activities included:
- Programme Article in respect of the Level Playing Field & Tottenham Hotspur Disabled Supporters Association.
- Programme Article in respect of the recent bespoke Disability Awareness Training Course for match day stewards and newly appointed Away Disability Liaison Officer who travels to every away game.
- Programme Article in respect of Enfield Town Disability Team
- Enfield Town Disability Team will also be attending the game.
- Pre match pitch side and screen announcement on LPF’s weeks of action
On Saturday 15th March Watford hosted Barnsley at Vicarage Road . This is was their ‘Disability Day’ and involved linking with national children’s charity Action For Children and a whole host of local partners across the county to create a fun event to engage the disability groups in Hertfordshire and publicise the opportunities open to them through football.
They hosted a football fun day in the morning where Action for Children came together with their Short Break service users and took part in lots of different activities at an indoor venue close to the stadium. Outdoors at the same facility, they ran a festival for their adult day centres, Mencap groups, Mental Health organisations and a number of other disability groups that they work with.
Alongside this festival was a more competitive event for the Herts Inclusive Football League teams who took part in a cup competition. Following a little rest and some lunch, everyone headed over to the stadium to take in the football.
The whole day focused on promoting the amazing opportunities that WFC, The Trust, Herts FA and all their partners are striving to create for disabled people across all ages in Hertfordshire. Watford invited the local media to try and get involved with the day / provide some coverage of what they are doing.
The club generously provided an allocation of over 350 complimentary tickets which were given to disabled children, young people, adults and their families. They also had a half time penalty shoot out on the pitch and a double page in the programme to promote their projects and to raise awareness about their cause. The youngsters from their county disability player development centre were in attendance and are they offered their opponents on the day Barnsley, the opportunity for some of their disability groups to be involved with the activities and Matchday.
West Bromwich Albion
are planning to once again hold their annual open day for the disabled branch of their official supporters’ club on Thursday, April 17.
West Ham United
West Ham United’s Stewart Downing visited Dycorts School recently, the school caters for pupils of moderate learning difficulties. http://webfronter.com/havering/Dycortsschool/ A web story detailing that visit and the Club’s support of the LPF Weeks of Action featured on whufc.com here and will also appeared in Saturday 22nd March matchday programme. On the matchday itself, West Ham United published a web story outlining all the work that the Club currently does for its disabled supporters, while also discussing the excellent facilities that disabled supporters can look forward to at the Olympic Stadium. Additionally, there was a PA announcement as well as logo/call to action on the big screen prior to kick-off to raise awareness of the campaign. The Club also nominated disability liaison officer Julie Pidgeon to present manager Sam Allardyce with his Manager of the Month award pitchside prior to the match.
took part again this season at their home match on the 22 March. They hoped to raise awareness of the Wrexham DSA. The DSA have also very recently purchased 20 sets of WFC replica track suits from the club shop for its disabled football squad to wear during training and at competitions. A bucket collection was held on the 22nd March as a campaign launcher to fund raise for new wheelchair viewing platforms at the Racecourse Ground.
Statements of support
David Bernstein, CBE, President of Level Playing Field
‘As President of Level Playing Field, I am delighted to support this year’s Weeks of Action campaign. We all have a responsibility to ensure that sport is truly inclusive and that naturally includes the many disabled spectators who are sports fans. I wish every success to everyone involved with this year’s events.’
Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, DBE, 11-time Paralympic Games gold medallist and Cross Bench Peer of the House of Lords
‘I am pleased to offer my full support to the Level Playing Field Weeks of Action once again this year. Many disabled people already enjoy sports as both participants and spectators and we must ensure that our venues are accessible and welcoming to all so that we can encourage a wider involvement in all aspects of sports in the future. Wishing LPF and its members another successful campaign.’
‘I offer my continued support to the Level Playing Field Weeks of Action campaign. The Weeks of Action enable clubs to celebrate and share the good work that they are doing to improve access to their stadiums for disabled supporters’.
Sir Trevor Brooking CBE, Patron of Level Playing Field Weeks of Action
June Wratten, LPF Ambassador and head of LPF Awards
‘I would like to congratulate the LPF for creating the Weeks of Action initiative, and all the clubs that participate in this very well supported annual event. I cannot emphasise how important it is for clubs at all levels to embrace all it’s supporters; irrespective of their ability. It was only because of the diligent & hard work done by the LPF; advising & encouraging clubs on how to provide good access, facilities & services that made visits to many stadiums viable for my son Joseph. On a Saturday afternoon he could be with his fellow supporters for 90 mins and feel the same as everyone else. That is how it should be. In his memory, I hope that one day, as a result of the efforts being afforded during the coming weeks, everyone will have the same opportunity. Good luck to everyone taking part in the Weeks of Action. Whatever your club is doing to improve it’s facilities for disabled supporters like Joseph, I’d like to say ‘Thank you, it will be greatly appreciated.’
Danny Wallace – LPF Ambassador and ex-player Manchester United, Southampton and England
‘I am proud to be an Ambassador of Level Playing Field and since being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis 18 years ago, I’ve discovered first-hand how difficult access can be. Disabled supporters should have equal rights to everything at a match and in choosing to support their team alongside their own fans. Here’s to another successful campaign.’
Danny Mills, Level Playing Field Ambassador, TV pundit and ex-player – Manchester City, Leeds, Middlesbrough, Charlton, Hull City, Derby, Norwich and England.
‘I am delighted to give my full support to Level Playing Field and the Weeks of Action as we all work to improve facilities for disabled fans. All sports must be inclusive and accessible to all including access to match tickets and the match day experience. And for me, football is a game I love and it should naturally be available to everyone. I wish this year’s campaign every success.’
Peter McCormick OBE, Chairman, Football Stadia Improvement Fund
‘A key aim of the Football Stadia Improvement Fund is to use money provided by the Premier League to make stadia, particularly at the lower levels of the game, comfortable and accessible for all. I am therefore delighted to support Level Playing Field’s ‘Weeks of Action’, which allows clubs and fans alike to celebrate all of the good work that is being done in this area.’
Greg Dyke, FA Chairman, The Football Association
‘On behalf of The FA, I am delighted to be endorsing the Level Playing Field Weeks of Action. A core goal of our work at Wembley Stadium, St. George’s Park and across the County FA structure is football for everyone. It is important that the whole game comes together to make it as inclusive as possible. I wish the very best to Level Playing Field and everyone taking part this year, particularly the unsung volunteers helping to stage events.’
Alan Turvey, Chairman, Ryman Football League
‘The Ryman Football League supports the 2014 Level Playing Field Weeks of Action. The campaign reminds us that watching sport should be inclusive.’
Richard Faulkner (Lord Faulkner of Worcester), LPF and Football Conference Vice President
‘I am proud to offer my full support to Level Playing Field’s weeks of action as the charity continues to strive for equality for disabled sports fans with sporting events and venues inclusive and accessible to all. I wish everyone involved every success for this year’s campaign’
Chris Heaton- Harris MP, LPF Vice President
‘As a new Vice President of Level Playing Field, with a long association in football, I am proud to support the LPF Weeks of Action. I am passionate about ensuring disabled people have equal access to live sporting events at all levels. Wishing everyone involved another successful season in promoting improved access for disabled fans.’
Andrea Brown, Customer Services Manager, The Football League
‘The Football League is committed to the Level Playing Field Weeks of Action and we are proud of our positive relationship with the organisation as we continue to work together to improve the experience of all disabled supporters at all our clubs.’
Carol Doran, Facilities Manager, Rugby Football League
‘The RFL and the RFL Facilities Trust are delighted to support Level Playing Field’s Weeks of Action campaign. The RFL Facilities Trust is working closely with Level Playing Field and investing in audits to assess the quality of experience of disabled supporters at Rugby League stadiums. The Trust believes it is crucial that the sport of Rugby League is accessible and welcoming to all its fans. The Weeks of Action campaign will enable clubs to demonstrate the positive work they are doing to actively attract disabled supporters to their games and to offer them a great sporting experience’
Jean Bevan, Partner, Corporate Commercial at Bevan Kidwell (pro-bono legal services to LPF)
‘We are pleased to support the Weeks of Action campaign run by our friends at Level Playing Field. We have a great relationship with LPF, and fully support the role that they play in improving access for disabled people to live sporting events. The very best of luck for the Weeks of Action!’
Ben Isles, Chair of Norwich City DSA
‘Sport plays a key role in many people’s lives and opportunities to attend sporting events should be available to all. Level Playing Field have been instrumental in assisting supporters with disabilities to access these kind of opportunities, in addition to working with relevant organisations to enhance the quality of facilities in stadiums throughout the UK. In my position as Chairman of the Norwich City Disabled Supporters Association, the ongoing practical advice and assistance that we receive from Level Playing Field has been crucial in enabling us to start up and begin to establish our group.’
Tanvi Vyas, Trailblazers Project Manager
‘For many young disabled people an introduction to sport comes from going to games and enjoying the spectator experience as part of a crowd. The Level Playing Field campaign fits alongside Trailblazers ‘Game On’ campaign on access to grassroots sport. Stadiums need to put access at the heart of stadium design so that disabled fans have a choice of seating, and can sit with other fans. This year, we hope to see another successful Level Playing Field campaign which showcases the positive work clubs are doing.’
Leroy Binns, Campaigns Assistant, Mencap
‘As a football supporter everyone should be able to support their team by going to games. All sports including football should be open to everyone. I support the 2014 Weeks of Action, as they help all involved in sport achieve this’.
Hayley Jarvis, Inclusive Activities Manager, National Deaf Children’s Society
The National Deaf Children’s Society hopes Level Playing Field have a successful ‘Weeks of Action’ campaign. We have worked with LPF in the past on Disability Awareness projects and have seen first-hand what a positive impact this work has had on everyone involved. The LPF Weeks of Action reminds everyone that attending a sports event should be open to all.’
Suzanne Bull MBE, Chief Executive Officer, Attitude is Everything
‘Attitude is Everything supports the work of Level Playing Field and wishes them every success for their “Weeks of Action” campaign. It is great to see sports clubs uniting to raise awareness and actively publicise how they have become more accessible to disabled people.’
The Department for Work and Pensions, Disability Action Aliance is also supporting the LPF Weeks of Action with a feature article on its website here.