The 12th Annual Level Playing Field (LPF) Weeks of Action is well underway with clubs, Disabled Supporters Associations (DSAs) and disabled fans joining together to celebrate a message of access and inclusion for disabled sports fans.

Since 2016, Level Playing Field has coincided its Weeks of Action to take place as part of the CAFE Week of Action, celebrating access and inclusion across Europe and beyond.

This year, Level Playing Field (LPF) is celebrating the ‘Game Changers’ that make a positive difference to the enjoyment and experience of disabled sports fans. By shining a light on those who go the extra mile to improve access and inclusion, it can inspire others to take a lead and help change the game for disabled fans.

Over the course of the LPF Weeks of Action fortnight (4th – 19th March) there are a range of events, activities and promotions taking place throughout England and Wales from grassroots to Premier League clubs celebrating the ‘Game Changers’. With 52 sports clubs and 18 DSAs as confirmed participants, it promises to be the most successful LPF Weeks of Action campaign to date.

LPF were delighted to gain the support of the FA & English Football League who worked in partnership to produce this short film, ‘Access for all: A game-changing experience’.

Manchester United got the matchday celebrations underway at Old Trafford with ball assistants wearing LPF #GameChangers t-shirts, and the club mascot Fred the Red paraded around the stadium with an LPF pennant. Matchday staff and stewards in the accessible seating area also wore LPF t-shirts, and young disabled supporters also had an opportunity to get their photo taken with Fred the Red.

Everton launched their LPF Weeks of Action activities by recognising the important role of the club’s Disability Access Officer (DAO). The role of DAO is now mandatory under UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play regulations, and the club looked at how they can be a ‘Game Changer’ by making the matchday experience more accessible, inclusive and enjoyable for disabled fans.

Elsewhere, West Bromwich Albion announced ambitious accessibility plans and work has already started to make their Hawthorns stadium more accessible for all disabled supporters. This includes an increase in wheelchair user spaces, a Changing Places toilet facility and dedicated training for club staff. These developments will hopefully prove to be a massive 'Game Changer' for the club’s disabled supporters.

It is not just the Premier League clubs celebrating the ‘Game Changers’, as League 2 team Exeter City took the opportunity to recognise the game changing work their DSA has done for their 10th year anniversary, in which they have raised over £20,000 to improve access and inclusion for their disabled fans.

Newport County, also a League 2 side based in Wales, decided to centre their activities around mental ill health, with awareness initiatives encouraging fans to talk about their feelings in order to remove the stigma surrounding mental ill health. The club screened a video on matchday called ‘We Wear the Same Shirt’ as well as setting up information points around the stadium for fans to find out more about mental ill health.

The club also had ball assistants proudly displaying an LPF banner as the teams came out prior to kick off to show their support for the LPF Weeks of Action.

With one week and 2 matchdays left to go in the 2017 LPF Weeks of Action, there are still plenty of matchday events and activities still planned to celebrate the ‘Game Changers’ and to spread a message of access and inclusion for disabled supporters. You can keep up to date with all that’s going on by following @lpftweets on twitter and liking /lpftweets on Facebook.

Ruth Hopkins, General Manager of LPF said, “Our Weeks of Action campaign is an important event in the sporting calendar which gives us the opportunity to celebrate a positive message of access and inclusion for all. This year we are celebrating the ‘Game Changers’ who lead and inspire real change for all disabled supporters as we shine a light on the people and initiatives that can change the lives of disabled people’.

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