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World Autism Acceptance Week: Faye Medcalf

This week is World Autism Acceptance Week, and Level Playing Field sat down with fans and clubs to chat about experiences with autism at live sports events.
Forest Green RoversTottenham Hotspur

For our second World Autism Acceptance Week piece, we conducted an interview with Tottenham Hotspur and Forest Green Rovers fan, and Level Playing Field member Faye Medcalf, who has autism and regularly attends matches at both clubs.

Faye talks to us about her experiences watching Spurs at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, and what makes it a great place for a fan with autism to watch live sport.

Here’s the full interview…

What football clubs do you support?

I support Forest Green Rovers (League 2), and Tottenham Hotspur (Premier League).

How often do you attend games?

With forest green games I go to three or four games each season, but with Tottenham I go to all home games.

Do you travel to home and away games?

With Forest Green it’s mostly away games, and maybe two home games a season.

What are your overall experiences of attending football as a fan with autism?

I feel it is something normal that you can go out and do in the community and in public, and you feel like you are treated like a normal person. You don’t stick out as someone that has a hidden disability.

What is the best thing a football club does to improve your match day experience as a fan with autism?

Having SpursAbility (Tottenham’s Disabled Supporters’ Association) and the access team at Tottenham, helps to ensure any issues or problems can be dealt with. Having Level Playing Field also helps, and can assist with issues that the DSA or the club cannot.

Knowing there are disability stewards in place on a matchday is also really helpful to make sure that disabled supporters can get in and out of the stadium, and that they have everything they need during their matchday.

What one general improvement could clubs make to improve your match day experience as a fan with autism?

The concourses near the bar areas before and after a match are really busy, and sometimes there are to many people meaning you have to push through crowds before and after a matches.

The noise levels can also be too much for someone with autism and sensory issues. There are similar issues when trying a get food and drink at bars in concourses, and before a match is a non-starter because there is too many people trying to do the same thing. Having sensory rooms and quiet areas can help this.

What’s your favourite live sport event you’ve attended?

The equestrian events at the London 2012 Olympic Games both as a supporter and as a volunteer, as well as going to watch Forest Green Rovers and Tottenham Hotspur games.

Also, I enjoyed being a volunteer at Saracens Rugby Club. I used to record their games at home and watch them back at home later in the day!

What’s your best memory whilst attending a football match?

Spurs getting into the Champions League final for the first time in their history.