As part of the upcoming Level Playing Field (LPF) Weeks of Action matchdays this weekend, we invited responses from parents whose children and young people attend The New Saints FC Foundation’s All-In sessions, to hear about their experiences at Park Hall Stadium.
Taking place every Friday night, with alternative weeks for different age groups, All-In is an activity club for children and young people with additional needs. Participants get to take part in a wide variety of activities, including sports and arts and crafts, while being supported to meet their needs in the process.
Below, read the responses of Sarah and Chantel, who both have sons, Josh and Dario, attending the program, as well as other Foundation activities, such as Holiday and Youth Clubs.
What were your early experience of attending live football games?
S: My son’s first experience of a live football game was attending an away match with Weston Rhyn Youth Club. He was very excited about travelling on the minibus and being out after dark!
C: We were invited by The New Saints Community Foundation with a free match ticket
What’s the most enjoyable part about your matchday?
S: The megaphone and supporters drum are real highlights for him, maybe not so much for everyone else!
C: I get to spend time with my son
What was your favourite live sporting moment of 2019?
S: Attending a home game as part of the Youth Club Christmas treat
C: It’s in 2020, but the 6-1 win against Newtown last Saturday
What are the positive things your club does to make your matchday as inclusive and enjoyable as possible?
S: We wouldn’t have previously contemplated attending a live game due to difficulties in concentrating and remaining in one place for a longer time than normal. We usually only manage the first-half, but this is always acceptable
C: The TNS Foundation makes matchdays more enjoyable for us, because they make sure to include you just as much, even if you don’t attend many games. Dario was able to play on the drum and cheer on the team and that’s what he enjoyed most
In 3 words how would you describe your matchday experience?
S: Fun, exciting, easier
C: Skills, fans, inclusion
If you could give any advice to a disabled fan who hasn’t yet attended a live football match, what would you say?
S: Talk to the organisers, they will be able to put minds at rest about facilities and expectations
C: There isn’t a big crowd, so it makes it comfortable for the fan to enjoy the football match. The coordinators of the Fanzone are well trained to deal with disabilities and put parents’ minds to rest
What makes watching live sport more enjoyable than watching it on TV?
S: For us, it’s the atmosphere that sets it apart from watching on TV
C: The atmosphere. You get to sit outside and watch it live and hear what the players are saying
Why in your opinion is it important for disabled people to have access to live sport?
S: Because it is a positive experience promoting teamwork and inclusivity as much as for fans as for those taking part
C: I think it’s important to have access to live sport, so that they can socialise with others in different areas
Images: Josh (left image, first from right), attending the away match against Connah’s Quay Nomads last year and Dario (right image), taking part in the charity bag pack at Morrisons last year.