South West Disabled Fans’ Experience Forum 2014
The fourth Forum took place at Plymouth Argyle Football Club on Thursday 16th October 2014.
This Forum was hosted by Plymouth Argyle Disabled Supporters Association, Plymouth Argyle Football Club and supported by Nick Saunders & David Munn (co-founders of SWDFEF).
The idea for the Forum came from Nick Saunders (Exeter City DSA) back in 2011 and with David Munn (Yeovil Town DSA) working together, they set-up the now SWDFEF.
Invitations had been sent 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 south west region.
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 – Could encourage more disabled people to attend matches.
Attending this Forum were 18 delegates from 4 Football League clubs, 1 Premier League club, The Football League and Devon County F.A. Delegates that attended this year’s forum came from Cardiff City, Exeter City, Plymouth Argyle, Swansea City and Yeovil Town. Apologies came from Bristol City, Bristol Rovers, Cheltenham Town, Newport County, Swindon Town, Torquay United and Level Playing Field.
The Forum was opened and all delegates welcomed by Martyn Starnes (Plymouth Argyle CEO) and then the Forum was handed over to Steve Helley (Plymouth Argyle DSA Vice-Chairman).
Barry Hendy (Plymouth Argyle DSA Chairman) gave a brief overview of the start-up of PADSA before Gareth Clark (PADSA Member) gave a presentation on what he expected from clubs, compared to what he had experienced from clubs, as a disabled supporter.
Steve Helley (PADSA Vice-Chairman) then gave a fuller brief of PADSA’s past and current activities.
Andy Pomfret (Football League Customer Services Officer and Aneel Javed (Football League Development Officer) gave a very informative presentation on “Inclusion& Anti-Discrimination Action Plan & Future Disabled Supporters’ Initiatives”.
After a short break Mark Lovell (Head of Football in the Community Trust) and Dwain Morgan (Community Social Inclusion Officer), both for Plymouth Argyle, gave a complete overview of their activities and responsibilities for Disability Football in the Plymouth area.
Ashley Harris (Disability Development Officer for Devon County F.A.) then gave a presentation on “Wheelchair Football & Powerchair Football” for the disabled community. He outlined that there were 3 Wheelchair Football clubs in Devon and invited the delegates present to take this idea back to their own clubs, as he would like to increase the number of clubs having their own teams.
Dave Boobyer (Plymouth Argyle Stadium Manager, Health & Safety Officer & Disability Liaison Officer) then gave a presentation on his responsibilities and his experiences. He then outlined the problems that he faces on match days, plus taking into account that the Main Stand is about to be demolished and then rebuilt, which will make it very challenging during this time.
A short general discussion then took place with delegates asking for further information and clarification on the various topics presented.
At the end of the presentations it was advised that, it is initially planned to hold the next Forum on Thursday 15 October 2015 with the venue yet to be announced.
The Forum was formally closed by Steve Helley after David Munn (co-founder) thanked everyone for their attendance, thanked those who made presentations, then thanked everyone involved at Plymouth Argyle for hosting a very informative Forum at Home Park and the use of their facilities.
Before everyone left there was an opportunity of a Stadium tour.
The forum was another success and the feedback from attendees was again very positive.
Nick Saunders (ECFC DSA Chairman; ECFC DLO; SWDFEF co-founder/co-chairman) & David Munn (YTFC DSA Media Rep; Soccer Sight Commentator; SWDFEF co-founder/co-chairman.