Having formed at the start of the year (2018), AFC Wimbledon’s DSA is fast approaching its first birthday. After a year of ups and downs on and off the pitch and the expected new stadium in the near future, Level Playing Field’s Fans’ Liaison Officer, Liam sat down with DSA Chair Jess, Vice-Chair Chris and AFC Wimbledon’s Disability Liaison Officer, Amanda Bynon at the Kingsmeadow stadium.
With hot beverages in hand on a cold December morning, Amanda explains how the DSA came to be.
Amanda: I wanted one! I felt like as club we need as DSA. Not so much for now, but for the future. I knew deep down it would take a couple of years to really get going. It was something as a club we mentioned a few times and I was made the Disability Liaison Officer and I thought Ok… Let’s do this.
Jess: It’s a great time to be doing this, moving forward with our fancy new stadium. It’s a perfect time.
Amanda: I looked at other DSAs and spoke to a few people and I found that there DSAs were very separate to the club and I don’t think that would work at AFC Wimbledon because we are fans own club and, in my mind, the DSA would have to be a joint entity between the club and the fans.
Jess: I agree.
Liam: What was the response like when you announced that the club would be looking to put together a DSA?
Amanda: A lot better than I expected! I thought we were only going to get around half a dozen people, but we ended up getting around 26 to 27 people! That might not seem a lot to some but for me, that was a far bigger response than we/I expected!
Liam: So, you had all these interests; how did things move forward?
Amanda: We had a couple of meetings and we did have someone to take on the role as Chair but due to various reasons, things just started to fizz out and the DSA wasn’t moving as far forward as we would have liked so we have decided to start again!
Jess: I felt that we needed to start again, I don’t think we really knew what we were doing. This way we can launch properly and have set target goals and have a direction. The DSA is something we want and need.
Liam: What been the biggest success in your first year as a DSA?
Chris: I’ll say where we are now, we’ve started to build up some real momentum between the three of us and the people we meet up with a few months. It’s not a physical thing but that vision of a future for the DSA is very rewarding.
Jess: It does feel like it’s going some were now and that is exciting. Talking to Level Playing Field and being given advice on how to move forward; we definitely have the momentum moving into the next year.
Liam: Looking forward to 2019, what are your goals, what do you hope to achieve?
Chris: To rule the world and to work with yourself (Level Playing Field) and create a 5-year plan.
Amanda: For me, it’s making more disabled supporters of AFC Wimbledon aware that they can come to a match day, that they can get in contact with me as DLO if they want to come along and that AFC Wimbledon want all fans to feel like they have a voice.
Jess: Just being a voice for fellow supporters. I mean, how many supporters with a non-visible disability out there, have that feeling that they can’t go to that game because it’s too busy and overwhelming. If we started doing something where we pair them up with somebody that could be a great thing to do in 2019. There is so much a DSA can offer by having active members work with the club.
Chris: I think to have more social events next year.
Jess: Yea, that way we can work with community groups and people who might not have thought it would be possible to come to watch a football game and think “This is quite good, I want to be part of this.” because there are exciting times ahead.
If you are interested in knowing more about AFC Wimbledon’s DSA or interested in attending a AFC Wimbledon game then please contact Amanda via phone: 0208 547 3528 or email: Amanda.Bynon@afcwimbledon.ltd.uk.
If you would like to know more about DSAs in general, then please click the link here.