On Saturday 10th February for the match against Halifax Town at My Racecourse, Wrexham AFC in partnership with the National Autistic Society (NAS Wrexham branch), Wrexham AFC Disabled Supporters Association, and match sponsors GIBBS Steel Ltd. will host another Autism Friendly football match.
Back in 2013, Wrexham AFC became the country’s first football club to host such an event and it was a ground breaking initiative, after Wrexham fan Simon Johnson, whose daughter Mollie has autism, contacted Wrexham AFC Disabled Supporters Association to see if it would be possible for them to facilitate a family Simon knew who were also living with autism, to attend a Wrexham AFC home game.
Wrexham DSA are always looking at ways to improve the match day experience for disabled supporters and those in the local community who are likely to experience forms of social exclusion.
From there the Autism-friendly event grew for the benefit of families living with autism in the Wrexham area. Local charity Autism Wishes came on board and with all parties working together the event was very well received.
With the help and cooperation of Wrexham AFC the day ran smoothly and was a great success with many taking up the invite to see Wrexham run out 2 nil winners over Woking.
Autism is a lifelong development disability that affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people. It can also affect how they make sense of the world around them.
It is a spectrum condition, which means that although people with autism may share certain difficulties, each person will be affected by the condition differently. Autism affects 1 in 100 people, which is roughly 3000 people in Wales alone with over 200 families who have a child or relative who lives with autism in the Wrexham area. What is Autism; http://www.autism.org.uk/about/what-is/asd.aspx
As part of the day an operational plan has been drawn up by the Wrexham DSA with assistance from Wrexham AFC and approved by NAS Wrexham.
It will involve an opportunity for the families to visit the stadium prior to match day in order to familiarise themselves with such things as stadium layout, entrances and seating arrangements. Volunteers from Wrexham DSA will be on hand to facilitate the visit and answer any questions.
This pre-game familiarisation process was a concept first used by Wrexham DSA for the first event and is now recommended best practise by national disability and accessibility charity, Level Playing Field.
On the big day parking has kindly been made available by the Turf Hotel. Wrexham DSA would like to thank Wayne Jones, landlord of the Turf for his unwavering support to the DSA’s parking needs whenever called upon.
Entry to the stadium will be gained by using the exit gate adjacent to the Turf and will be exclusive to those with autism and their families.
Wrexham AFC stewards will be present to scan tickets and be on hand from this point to assist.
Once inside the stadium, an area of the family enclosure in the Hays Travel Stand will be sectioned off for the families, although autistic fans are always welcome to sit anywhere in the stadium depending on an individual’s needs.
All autistic fans and carers attending the day will be given the right to move freely in and out of the stadium throughout the 90 minutes of play, should anyone need to return to their car for some time out away from the noise of the crowd.
At the final whistle extra time will be given for families to remain within the stadium allowing enough time for the crowd to disperse.
With this in mind please may we ask that all fans be considerate and courteous before, during and after the game knowing that your actions could have a larger than usual impact on someone’s day.