Each season Football League clubs work hard to provide the best possible match-day experience for their loyal supporters and the local community.Throughout April, clubs from across all three divisions have been promoting Level Playing Field’s Weeks of Action 2016, an annual initiative from the disabled sports fans charity which seeks to encourage more disabled fans to attend football matches while celebrating those who already do.
A wide range of activities and events have been introduced by clubs across the country. In the North West Preston North End have been promoting the initiative in a number of ways.
One of those was for disabled supporters to email in their favourite Deepdale memory, with those received displayed on a ‘memory page’ both in a matchday programme and on the big screen in the stadium.
In addition, the club are also going to provide a day’s work experience for one lucky supporter, along with further promotion of their disabled facilities and ticketing initiatives in the community.
Across the Pennines, Bradford City are another club who invited pictures from fans, albeit in a slightly different manner. Its ‘Being a Bantam’ campaign encouraged disabled supporters to take photographs of their matchday activities, demonstrating what football means to them.
The best images were selected and displayed on the walls of the main stand at Valley Parade ahead of a recent home fixture, in which the club’s disability team also played on the pitch during half-time.
Moving down the country, Milton Keynes Dons held a number of events too, beginning with a stadium tour and a Q&A session with the manager and players. The club’s disability team made up a guard of honour for the team ahead of the recent home match with Brentford, and a parade of disabled supporters from both the Dons and the Bees performed a lap around Stadium:mk at half-time.
Recognising its successful implementation at other clubs, both Millwall and Hartlepool United introduced a waiter service for disabled fans wishing to buy refreshments.
Meanwhile, Middlesbrough held a pre-match presentation to honour a Disabled Fan of the Year. At the same time the Middlesbrough Disabled Supporters Association acknowledged its staff member of the year.
On the South coast, Portsmouth held a ‘Pompey For All' inclusion event in Fratton Park’s Victory Suite giving attendees a taster of the many disabled sports that the club participate in.
Representatives from Pompey’s Amputee, Powerchair and Walking Football football teams were on hand to talk about their respective sports, before the club offered a behind-the-scenes tour and a chance to meet the players.
Of course, these are just a few examples of the great work that the clubs have done — and continue to do — to promote disability in football, and some more examples can be viewed in our Facebook gallery below.
GALLERY: View the great work done by our clubs to promote Weeks of Action 2016
Joyce Cook OBE, Level Playing Field Chair said: “We were delighted by the amazing support shown by The Football League and its clubs during LPF’s 2016 Weeks of Action with the League leading this season’s celebrations at the 2016 Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Final at Wembley.
“It was fantastic to see the level of support shown across the divisions as clubs from all parts of the country came together to promote the message of access and inclusion for all fans. A huge thank you to The Football League and its clubs in helping us to make the campaign such a great success; we couldn’t do it without you.”