Unite for Access campaign.

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At Monday’s match against Newcastle at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea Football Club and the Chelsea Foundation will be marking Level Playing Field’s annual Unite for Access campaign – https://www.chelseafc.com/en/news/article/unite-for-access-accessibility-at-chelsea-games

We decided the best way to understand and learn from our disabled supporters, was to ask them about their own experiences, how match day and attending live sports with an hidden disability impacts them.

We’ve had some wonderful stories as shown below.Everyone deserves respect, inclusion and the right to be treated equally, no matter what their disability is.


Empathy Not Sympathy Poem.

Is it me, is it the world around me.
Sometimes I blame the ignorant for the lack of education to my talents
Sometimes I realise my self-worth and carry myself confidently.
All I ask for is a little empathy got no time for sympathy I don’t need people feeling sorry for meIs it me, is it the system in place.
Every now and then you might see me in times of guidance
Every now and then I might express myself in misunderstood challenging ways
All I ask for is a little empathy got no time for sympathy I don’t want people feeling sorry for meIs it me, is it the school curriculum.
I wonder what the world would look like if we had GCSE’s on Aspergers
I wonder what the world would look like if we took classes on inequality
All I ask for is a little empathy got no time for sympathy I don’t need people feeling sorry for me.
By Luke Caley


Untitled Poem.
Sometimes I want to drown out the sounds that feel so loud,
Yet to be at football within the crowd,
It’s a different noise where supporters unite,
Sometimes I want darkness away from the light,
But games in the evening are like lifting the fog,
Football is another world, a release from the turning cog,
Amongst the faces, that you always see,
Games are like rituals and familiarity,
Breathe it all in,
A comfort that soothes, mind, body and soul,
And it starts when heading to the Fulham Road for a stroll.

My son the high functioning autistic with pretty severe ADHD that manifests itself in anger, Asperger’s in old money.An invisible disability where most would be forgiven, until educated,  would suggest on appearance the lad is “normal” for want of a better word.Football, football is his life, is his heartbeat. There is nothing you cannot ask the boy that he will not know, his Grandad has tried to catch him out many many times.His first game at Stamford Bridge, a visibly shaken, anxious figure stood there overwhelmed by it all, clinging on to me like his life depended on it. With the beauty of social media, many were already expecting his appearance and went out of their way to understand him, his needs and how they can help. A video of him starting a chant and the whole of Matthew Harding following went viral (pre planned with fellow supporters so Dad had to purchase the away shirt after the game) he was mesmerized by the power he had and the joy that live football gave him.Over a process of months and many games cautiously approached later, he was itching to know when the next game was that we would attend, usually still on the way home from the one just witnessed.Stamford Bridge went from a huge hurdle laden with fear to his safe space, on the flip side where he had to be educated on the fact he couldn’t just run to talk to someone he recognised in the middle of London without liaising with me first.Credit goes to Chelsea Football Club, the wonderful fanbase who took to him like a duck to water and their willingness to understand and adapt to make his experience memorable and enjoyable.Without the beautiful game and all that is being done to understand invisible disabilities this wonderful part of his, mine, our lives wouldn’t exist.Long may this subject continue to progress.

Being a mum of two with both of my kids with hidden disabilities can have its challenges.
My oldest is my daughter who is 24 years old. She has a moderate learning disability, struggles each day with social anxiety. Often struggles daily with how she communicates with the public in unfamiliar environments and situations.
My youngest, my son is 14. Has a severe learning disability, developmental delay and is mainly non verbal.
For both of them though, attending games home and away is something that we all enjoy doing as a family, a common interest, a few hours out of the usual daily struggles.
We’ve actually have made so many friends via the football that we may have never met or even come across other wise.

Football is like a release from the world around me, the feeling of freedom, where I never feel judged.
I have ADHD, I suffer with depression and EPD.
It’s the best escape from everything that goes on in my brain.
I have met so many supportive and wonderful people who accept me for me, who I’d never have had the opportunity to meet if it wasn’t for football.
Everyone is there for the same reason, to watch their team play and hopefully win!I go home and away, I couldn’t always travel for away games as this made me really anxious, travelling is stressful and complicated. I worry and panic.
I use the club coach a lot, it’s a blessing, for I know I’m getting to a ground safely and home again.
This is what made away games possible.
I have someone who comes with me and we plan our journeys together, whether it’s home or away and Leicester!

About Post Author

Dominic Rosso


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