Ahead of International Women's Day 2024, CAFE spoke with women who are passionate about access and inclusion for disabled people.

Whether disabled fans themselves, or working to remove barriers affecting disabled people in sport, we sought a wide range of experiences and opinions to shine a spotlight on the topic.

Gohar Navasardyan is a disabled football supporter, Disability Access Officer, and all-round champion of access and inclusion in Armenia. She shares her thoughts on the role that football plays in her life.

What made you take up football? 

My great love for football took me to the stadium, and it was there that I realised that I wanted to not only watch football but also work in the football industry. I was motivated to help to create conditions so that disabled people also have the opportunity to watch real football.


Have you ever faced any obstacles as a woman in this field? 

From the beginning, not all men were able to understand the fact that there was a disabled woman in the football industry. I was enthusiastic and keen to develop my poisition further, and this came as a great surprise to some. Fortunately, over time and seeing the job that I was doing, my presence became normal for everyone.


Are women as valued as men in football? Do you feel as valued as your male colleagues?

I wouldn't say that women and men are equally valued in football. But one thing is clear, the role of women is very important in football. I feel appreciated in football, and this acceptance motivates me a lot.

The only way is to love football, which unites women and men, disabled and non-disabled people, and allows you to quickly become a member of a big football family, without feeling alienated. 


Do you think the barriers for non-disabled women differ from the barriers faced by disabled women?

In life, the requirements of disabled people are different. So it is the same in football, because disabled people have their own specific barriers that they face both as football fans and as employees. 


What can be done to remove the barriers that affect disabled women? 

The first action has to be raising public awareness, motivating disabled women to want to be a part of the game. We also need to make stadiums more accessible, which will be of great benefit to everybody. 


What would your advice be to a disabled woman who feels that she can't be involved in football? 

My advice would be to love football very much, and not to let the problems that arise break that love. Never stop halfway. Always remember that you are the important force that should pave the way for others so that disabled peoplecan also enjoy football.

Celebrating International Women's Day 2024

Joana Cal appointed to CAFE Board of Trustees

"When I started going to watch live football, it was very noticeable that disabled women did not go to matches very often"

"Female ambassadors and representation in the game really do make a difference, especially for young women"

"I realised later that the pressure was actually, to some extent, double. Not only am I a woman, but I am also a disabled woman"

"The truth is that football has always been a man's world, but little by little women are making inroads and taking on roles that were not so common in the past"

"There still isn’t the same acceptance for women playing or watching football"

"If it means that they have to make changes for you to be welcomed, then that can only benefit the game"

"I have always felt valued as a person, but the work that we women do needs to be defended and fought for much more than that of men"

Published 8/3/2024