On 21st September 2015, Portsmouth FC hosted the first South Coast Regional Forum at Fratton Park Stadium. The event was organised by Level Playing Field Project Coordinator, Kieran Reynolds and Portsmouth DSA’s Samantha Piggott. It is the first regional forum to be organised as part of the Level Playing Field Working Together project. The objective of the forum is to provide a medium where individual DSA’s and club representatives can exchange views, policies and practices concerning their respective clubs and associations.
The forum was very well attended with representatives from Portsmouth FC, Portsmouth DSA, Southampton FC, Southampton DSA, Crawley Town DSA, Brighton and Hove Albion FC and Reading FC. They were also joined by South West Disabled Fans Experience Forum (SWDFEF) co-founder Nick Saunders and Level Playing Field Chief Executive Stephanie Gadd.
There was some lively discussion as well as presentations from Level Playing Field, Portsmouth FC, Pompey in the Community, SWDFEF and three different DSA’s. Attendees were able to network with each other as well as discuss the successes and the challenges they have faced at their own clubs. The meeting finished with the opportunity to have a short tour of Fratton Park stadium.
Project Officer Kieran Reynolds said, “I would like to thank Portsmouth FC and Portsmouth DSA for hosting the event. It was great that so many clubs and DSA’s came together in one room to share their stories, information and best practice with each other. We are now looking to establish forums in other regions as we believe that this will assist all clubs and DSA’s in their efforts to improve the match day experience for all disabled fans across the country.”
Portsmouth DSA’s Interim Chair Steve Webb said, “Two heads are better than one, or in this case loads of heads, from regional football club’s DSA’s. A wealth of information, frequently encountered access issues, problem solving, networking, sharing best practice and all this at the first annual southern DSA forum. Taking inspiration from the southwest forum and with a guiding hand from Level Playing Field the event, hosted by Portsmouth Football Club, was a huge success – here’s to many more.”