SW 2012/13

 South West Disabled Fans’ Experience Forum. 

The second forum took place at Yeovil Town Football Club on Thursday 18th October 2012. This forum was sponsored by David Munn; Nick Saunders and Yeovil Town Football Club.

The idea for these forums came from Nick Saunders, Chairman of the Exeter City Disabled Supporters Association, he asked David Munn of Yeovil Town DSA to work with him on the idea, which they now do jointly.

Invitations again was open to disabled supporter associations, disability liaison officers, stadium managers, health & safety officers, disability ‘football in the community’ officers and anyone who deals with disability at their club in the southwest region.

Attending this forum were 23 delegates from 8 southwest football league clubs, Level Playing Field and the Football League. Delegates that attended this year’s forum came from Bristol City, Bristol Rovers, Cheltenham Town, Exeter City, Plymouth Argyle, Swansea City, Torquay United and Yeovil Town. Apologies came from Cardiff City and Swindon Town.

The forum was opened by special guest, Gary Johnson (Yeovil Town team manager) and then all delegates where welcomed by Nick Saunders and then there was the self-introductions.

There was an overview presentation by David Munn giving details on the forums format and how we see the forums working.

Objectives of the forum: To provide a medium whereby everyone can exchange views, policies and practices concerning their own club’s and associations. What could be gained: It is hoped that these forums will assist all attending in their efforts to improve their own club’s disabled facilities and standard of customer service given to disabled supporters. Primary results: Firstly – Would improve the current disabled supporter’s experience. Secondly – Would encourage more disabled people to attend matches.

At the last forum it was accepted that any attempts by these forums to change regulations, policies would have to be submitted through the appropriate channels.

There was presentation’s from Jackie Newing from Level Playing Field, (which is the working name for The National Association of Disabled Supporters) about promoting good access for all fans and news on all their latest projects. There was then a presentation from the Football League on their work with member clubs in relation to disabled supporters. Jackie stated that LPF and the FL would like to roll these forums out across the country, which was great news for us all too hear.  

Next up was a presentation by Mike Rowsell from Yeovil Town DSA on what it’s like being a supporter with a disability and what it means to him to support his club.  

After a short break the forum want onto a presentation from David Munn – YTFC DSA Media Rep and soccer sight commentator. The presentation included the history of the DSA at Yeovil Town and what they do for home and away disabled supporters and the football club, by ways of disabled facilities, parking and the invaluable advice they give, plus events they put on throughout the year to raise funds. The presentation showcased what YTFC DSA was all about. 

There were views from representatives from Yeovil Town. First up were James Hillier & Roger Battrick (Stadium Manager, Health & Safety + Disability Liaison Officer). Up next were Roy O’Brien & Sara Bradley from the Community Sports Trust, which included an open discussion. 

The forum went onto any other business and an open invite to other clubs to hold the next forum at their club. Swansea City kindly offered to hold the next forum and this will be held there in October, 2013. 

Then the forum closed. 

Mike Rowsell was joined by other attendee in thanking David and Nick on the hard work put into doing another forum and everyone are looking forward to the next forum. 

These forums will in the end benefit supporters with disabilities attending matches and their match day experience. This can only be done by everyone working together with no rivalry standing in the way.

David and Nick thanked everyone for attending and for their continued support of the forums and a big thank you to everyone at Yeovil Town Football Club for their hospitality and use of their facilities. 

The forum was another great success and the feedback from attendees was again very positive. 

Nick Saunders (ECDSA Chairman) & David Munn (YTFC DSA Media Rep & Soccer Sight Commentator

Giving supporters with disabilities of Exeter City Football Club 'a voice to be heard'