"Experiencing football and making atmosphere is far more fun than just staying at home"

 

Bas Vos

As part of the CAFE Week of Action 2018 - Total Football Total Access - we spoke with disabled fans across Europe about their experiences of attending live matches.

 

Name of supporter: Bas Vos

Club supported: Feyenoord

 

How long have you been a supporter of your club?

I have been a supporter all my life, and I went to my first match as a 7-year old.

 

How did you become a supporter of your club?

Through my family, every one of us is a Feyenoord fan.

 

How many games do you attend each season?

I go to each home game, and almost all away games.

 

What are some of your favourite memories of supporting your team?

Going into the Champions League for the first time since I’ve been an active fan

Becoming league champions for the first time in 18 years in 2017

Winning the Cup the season before

Going through to the group stage of the Europa League in injury time

Qualifying for the Champions League qualifying rounds after ending the season before in 11th position

Countless emotional memories, especially my European away days in Istanbul (Fenerbahçe), Manchester (United), Kharkiv (Shakhtar Donetsk) and again in Manchester (City).

 

Describe your typical matchday routine?

For home matches, I go to the stadium by public transport, take my seat either behind the Feyenoord technical area or near a friend, cheer on the team during warm-up and watch the game with passion.

 

For away games, I go to the stadium by public transport, take my seat wherever the wheelchair sector may be in the stadium, and try to catch the attention of the away sector when possible (this may also occur after the match). I cheer on the team during the warm-up and watch the game with passion, but taking into account that I’m in a home sector.

 

How important is attending live matches to you?

Very important. It makes you feel part of the Legion, it makes you can say that you were there during legendary moments, home and away. Experiencing football and making atmosphere is far more fun than just staying at home and sitting in front of the TV. European away days are very good for one’s self-reliance, certainly when travelling alone in countries that are not (quite) wheelchair-friendly, like Italy and Ukraine. And you get to see cities where you would otherwise not spend a usual holiday, certainly not alone. Like Kharkiv in North-eastern Ukraine and Istanbul, Turkey in my case.

 

Do you feel you have a fully inclusive matchday experience when attending your club’s matches?

Yes. Even though no single Dutch away sector has wheelchair spaces, I feel inclusive because in nearly all the stadiums, there is a chance to sit quite near the away sector. At away matches, nothing beats my experience at Manchester City though where I was able to sit in the away sector and cheered Feyenoord almost to a huge upset, losing two minutes before the end of the game.

 

What do football clubs (including others that you have visited) do well to ensure a welcoming and inclusive matchday experience for disabled supporters?

The signage is well-arranged, and most of the time, and sometimes the free handling of drinks (not at every club, too bad)

 

What do you think clubs can do to help make the matchday experience for disabled supporters a more inclusive one?

Building wheelchair spaces and facilities in away sectors.

 

How has your matchday experience changed since you first started attending matches?

It improved significant, getting to the stadium from public transport has improved, as did the signage inside the ground.

 

The CAFE Week of Action message is Total Football Total Access. What does #totalaccess mean to you?

That everyone, regardless of club preference, nationality, race, sexual orientation, disability etc. can go to football matches without hindrance.