You only get one 1st in life.
Your first kiss!
Your first all mates holiday… best not to talk about that one.
And the first time your football club gave you hope that this season would be your year, but it ended in predictable failure.
Well, this year Level Playing Field had two firsts… The North East and East Midlands fans forums.
Apart from the A1 there are a couple of things that link these two regions together.
Brian Clough: The goalscoring prowess brought success to Sunderland and Middlesbrough until his retirement, from where he became the managerial mastermind at Hartlepool, Derby and Nottingham Forest.
Fans: Between them, they have some of the most passionate fans in the UK who have witnessed European Championship winning teams to seeing their side lift the League Championship above their heads.
Every supporter should have the opportunity to witness these magic moments, and that’s why on August 22nd at St James’ Park in Newcastle and September 3rd at Pirelli Stadium in Burton – over 60 people attended from Disabled Supporters Association (DSAs), charity partners, sporting clubs from football and rugby came together to talk, listen and engage with the one goal in mind, how can we improve the matchday experience for our fellow disabled supporters.
The North East Forum is ready to read now. Below is the review of the East Midlands Forum that took place on September 4th at the Pirelli Stadium.
East Midlands Forum
“The forum really opened our eyes to what else we could potentially do to improve the experience of those with disabilities and we were delight to present as well as host the event” – Matt Hancock, Head of Community, Burton Albion Community Trust
Liam was back in his home region, and the people in attendance didn’t let him forget it.
Being a Forest supporter himself, he was in a room with several on-field rivals on the pitch, but with all the ‘banter’ aside. All the clubs and DSAs in attendance (Burton Albion, Derby County, Notts County, Leicester City, Lincoln City, Chesterfield, Port Vale, MK Dons and Nottingham Forest) were there to discuss match day experiences and how we can make them better for disabled supporters.
Liam started the day by reiterating the fact that these forums are for the fans and that Level Playing Field and himself can only support disabled sport loving fans by engaging with one another. He invited people to fill out the ‘My Matchday experience’ survey (you can fill out the survey by clicking this link) that will support LPF and other governing bodies to bring about improvements that will lead to a better match-day experience for all supporters.
Just like Newcastle, there were presentations tasks, discussions and guest speakers to create a day of engaging and informative content.
Presentations from Matt Hancock (Head of Community at Burton Albion Community Trust) and with the absence of a DSA at Burton Albion Sandra Fixter the chair of Leicester City DSA gave the people in attendance a talk on the positive and working relationships between her club and the DSA and the work that they have been doing to raise the profile of invisible disabilities.
“I enjoyed the forum, it was extremely valuable to meet with our local teams and share best practice. Rivalries were put aside in the mutual desire to improve the experience of disabled supporters.” – Sandra Fixter – Chair of Leicester City Disability Support Association
The guest speaker of the day came in the form of ‘Steven Jamieson’ from Alan March Sport who told us about the importance of Audio Descriptive Commentary (ADC) for blind and partially sighted match day supporters.
“For me the meeting was an opportunity to network with other clubs, to see what works well and what didn’t work so well. It is an opportunity to discuss issues that in isolation may seem like mountains but when discussed with others who have experienced the same issues or are experiencing the same issues, you realise that they are not really as big an issue as you think.” – Gary Dempsey Chair of Derby County Disabled Supporters Club
Just like Newcastle, Liam lead the day’s activities and invited members to engage with all in attendance on subject matters that were raised including stewarding and club/DSA relationships.
“This was the first forum in the East Midlands region, and it won’t be the last. I’m already looking forward to next year’s forum, and I invite all sport lovers to attend and be part of the discussion on how we can continue to move forward and bring about all our goal, access for all.” – Liam Bird, Fans Liaison Officer
If you are interested in knowing more about regional forums in your area, then please email Liam@levelplayingfield.org.uk.