Ahead of the UEFA EURO 2020 fixtures due to take place in Amsterdam we caught up with Catelijne who shared with us her experiences of attending games in Holland.

What is your favourite memory of watching your national team?

I can’t think of a specific match or moment but I love the atmosphere and the energy surrounding a national team match. It's always such a great opportunity to see all of my favourite players playing live. 

My favourite memory of watching our national team on television is the UEFA EURO 1988 Final. You could feel the excitement and nervousness in the country and the explosion of happiness afterwards. It was just amazing.

How important is it that you are able to attend live matches?

Very important. I just love being there, sharing in the emotion of the game and especially being able to look where I want and not just where the television cameras think I want to see. I am not interested in seeing the manager's reactions or players warming up, I want to see the football!

Catelijne at a football game wearing an orange cap

Why is it important that access and inclusion is taken into consideration at stadiums?

As a disabled person, there can be lots that you cannot do due to your disability. It is what it is. All I ask is that whenever it is possible to include everybody, please do so.

Don’t take the easy way out by making attendance at football games possible for young and non-disabled people only, but go the extra mile so everyone can come. It is so important to include disabled people because there is already so much that we have to miss out on. 

How did the suspension of live football due to the Covid-19 pandemic impact on you and your well-being?

I hated it. I could not work, and due to Covid-19, all my social activities were also cancelled. I didn't have much to look forward to, which meant that I was sad and lonely at times.

How do you feel about being able to go back to watching live football again?

Over the moon!

What impact do you hope UEFA EURO 2020 will have on accessibility in Amsterdam and the Netherlands in general? 

It's hard to say but I hope that those involved in organising football matches here learn from it and understand that it's not that hard to include everybody.

What advice would you give to disabled fans who maybe attending their first ever live matches during UEFA EURO 2020? 

Be prepared! Try to find out as much as possible about how to get to the stadium, where to park, how local public transport works, the layout of the stadium etc.

However, when you get to the match, just enjoy it. Let everything go and concentrate fully on the game. Don’t let anything bother you... well, apart from that missed penalty and the referee's decision you disagree with of course! 

What are you most looking forward to around UEFA EURO 2020?

    Just watching as many matches as possible, and hopefully the Dutch team winning too!

    Who do you think will win UEFA EURO 2020? Which players are you looking forward to watching?

    I think France have to be considered favourites and I am looking forward to seeing their new young players.

    What message would you give to other people who may not understand non-visible disabilities and long-term health conditions, and any specific access requirements that you may have?

    I understand that people may not be aware of my disability and know what I need. But if you just ask me, I will be happy to tell you what it is that I may need.

    Matchday staff and other fans should always take the time to listen to any questions that I may have and I always encourage people to ask me to clarify if they haven't understood what it is I am looking for. 

    It is important to remember that for a lot of us everything we do is harder than for non-disabled people, so we appreciate it when people help us make things easier. This can be by providing clear instructions, opening a barrier to allow for a more direct route or making sure that the accessible toilets are open and not being used by non-disabled supporters.

    Kindness and understanding are essential to ensuring that disabled fans can have a positive experience. 

    We would like to thank Catelijne for sharing her experiences with us and taking part in the UEFA EURO 2020 Fan Stories series. Catelijne highlights some of the common issues faced by many disabled fans, as well as specific barriers affecting fans with non-visible disabilities or long-term health conditions.

    Throughout the UEFA EURO 2020 competition, we will be sharing similar interviews from the 11 host cities, as well as access information for each stadium. Follow CAFE on TwitterFacebook and Instagram to receive all the latest news and updates. 

    If you are a disabled fan, or know a disabled fan who would like to participate in our EURO 2020 Fan Stories series or our #MyMatchday interviews, please feel free to contact CAFE’s Fan Liaison, Access and Administration Officer, Amy Wilson, by email on [email protected] or call +44 (0)208 065 5108.