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Centre for Access to Football Europe, 3rd International Conference

On the 16th and 17th of November 2018, Level Playing Field (LPF) attended the Centre for Access to Football in Europe (CAFE)’s 3rd International conference at the Estadio San Mames in Bilbao.

The event brought together National Governing Bodies, Governing Bodies, Disabled Fans, Disabled Supporters Associations and clubs themselves to celebrate access and inclusion within football and to discuss how greater access and inclusion can be achieved through practical case studies.

CAFE’s 3rd conference was a resounding success with over 200 delegates attending the event in Bilbao. It allowed a diverse group to talk about their experience of access and inclusion at matchdays. Delegates heard from clubs and how they viewed access and inclusion, Hammarby FC of Sweden said “when we say spectators we mean all spectators, and everyone is included” they outlined how they deliver this statement in detail by providing such services as signing club chants on the big screen.

As a part of the conference LPF were attending as speakers and delegates. In the morning Ruth Hopkins (LPF, General Manager) was a part of the panel discussing the value of Disabled Supporter Associations (DSA) and the importance of user led feedback. She was joined on stage by the chair of Arsenal DSA, where the discussion detailed how disabled fans and their feedback play an integral part in enhancing matchday experience and creating greater access and inclusion.

In the afternoon Owain Davies (LPF, Chief Executive) was on the panel discussing Weeks of Action and the importance of celebrating inclusion and raising awareness. As a part of the panel he was joined by representatives from St Johnstone FC, Barcelona FC and the Russian Football Union where the panel took turns to share their experience of Weeks of Action. The overarching message that came out of the discussions is that it is important to raise awareness of good access and inclusion to drive a greater change in culture and accountability at clubs and stadia.

The conference provided a lot of opportunities for everyone to network and identify new ways of working by sharing their experiences and how they have overcome challenges in providing a greater matchday experience for disabled fans.

Owain Davies, Level Playing Field Chief Executive said: “The conference was a fantastic opportunity to hear about and discuss the wide range of activities done by clubs, disabled fans and governing bodies. The opportunity to hear of how clubs in Sweden (Hammrby FC) provide an inclusive matchday experience for their fans certainly shows different approaches that we can look to implement.”

He went on to say, “We are often so focused in our own work, and attending a conference as insightful and informative as this provides the opportunity to take ideas away to enhance our work to drive greater standards of access and inclusion and create a culture moving towards this.”

All at Level Playing Field would like to congratulate the whole CAFE team in delivering an outstanding conference and we look forward to the 4th one!”

The conference aim was to celebrate access and inclusion in football. The opportunity to share practice and learn from counterparts across the world is invaluable and LPF has certainly taken some key points away to work on in England and Wales. The conference strap line was Total Football – Total Access – Total Sense and sums up what we are trying to achieve.

CAFE published this video for the conference “This is My Game” you can watch it by clicking HERE.