Oleksandr Sydelnykov


OleksandrI fell in love with football as a young child, when I used to play with my friends at school. As I got older, I met people who supported so many different teams. It was fantastic to have the chance to learn all about different clubs and leagues.


I eventually moved to Sevastopol and met my wife. A lot of things changed in my life, and the time available for me to enjoy football was greatly reduced. However when my sons had grown up, my interest in the game came back all over again.


By this time, my disability meant that the only real way for me to enjoy football was by using the Internet. I missed the bright lights, high emotions and roaring sounds of a huge crowd of supporters. I missed the incomparable feeling of being at a match.


In the 2009-10 season, Sevastopol were very close to gaining promotion to the top division here in Ukraine. As a supporter I was very eager to witness it - I had to go to the stadium and see it. The journey was hard work in my wheelchair, but eventually I made it. I was able to share this great moment with my fellow supporters. It was incredible.


The Centre for Access to Football in Europe offered us a huge amount of support to make sure that the to-be renovated stadium would be fully accessible for disabled supporters and with UEFA EURO 2012 played in Ukraine, the access issues were considered very seriously.


The changes have been remarkable. The stadium is now ready for disabled supporters to come and watch the team. We have also received great help from the club, as they have provided us with buses to take us to see our team. We now have a significant number of disabled football fans coming to watch every home match, with more and more coming each week. I have now become coordinator of our disabled supporters group, and I am so happy to be able to share my love of football with all my new friends, just as I did when I was a young boy.


It is crucial that more is done for disabled supporters, as there is nothing better than football to bring people together. Being able to go and watch my team has made a huge difference to my life, and more people should have this opportunity.


“There is nothing better than football to bring people together”


Oleksandr Sydelnykov - Ukraine