News and fans' stories #MyMatchday "It must not be a struggle to watch a live match" In the latest instalment of the #MyMatchday series, CAFE spoke with Leo van den End. Leo is from the Netherlands, and a big fan of Feyenoord. Leo shared his story of becoming disabled later in life and how his love of football has only continued to grow. How did you become a Feyenoord supporter? Back in 1980, I became disabled after being involved in a road traffic accident. I spent quite a while in hospital, and the Feyenoord players visited me a number of times. I have been a big fan ever since, and I regularly attend all of the home matches and many away matches. I attended the away match at Manchester City in 2017, and although we lost 1-0 it was an incredible night with so many Feyenoord fans in the stadium. Who is your favourite Feyenoord player of all time? We have had some amazing footballers, but my favourite is the goalkeeper Brad Jones. He was our captain the last time we won the Eredivisie in 2017. As an experienced player, who played in the English Premier League for many years, he was able to guide a very young squad to winning the championship. This was despite his own personal tragedy of losing his son and living on the other side of the world to his family in Australia. He is a legend. What does your typical matchday experience look like? I try to relax at home for as long as I can before the game. We live very close to Feyenoord's famous stadium - De Kuip - so it only takes about five minutes to get there. We usually leave home 90 minutes before kick off and greet many of our friends on the way to the stadium. Is your routine different for away matches? Yes - we have to leave home earlier! We like to stay a little while in the city where the game is being played usually. We can get something to eat and then head to the stadium, so it is important that not just the stadium is accessible but the entire city. Have you ever had to sit away from your fellow Feyenoord fans in the stadium? Almost always. There are very few spaces for disabled away fans in the Netherlands. It is something that clubs need to get better at, because it is very important to enjoy an inclusive experience. Otherwise it will not be a nice event. Has a lack of access ever stopped you from attending a match? No, but football has to do more to improve accessibility. Being disabled can be challenging sometimes, but it must not become a struggle to attend a football match. The most important thing that clubs can do is talk with disabled supporters and ask them how things can improve. Do you feel valued by your club as a disabled fan? I do. Watching live football has become a way of life that I love and I spend time watching my team with my friends. What message would you give to a disabled fan who has not been to a live match yet? If you are worried about attending a match, then give me a call and I will go with you. It will give you the most wonderful experience. CAFE would like to thank Leo for sharing his story with us. It is clear that Leo has very strong feelings for his club, and takes great pride and pleasure in watching them home and away. Leo also wants to share the feelings and emotions that attending live football gives him, and encourages other disabled people to visit their stadiums too. If you are a disabled fan, or know a disabled fan who would like to participate in 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. You can also contact CAFE via Twitter at @cafefootball and Facebook on www.facebook.com/cafefootball.