Representatives of the CAFE team recently travelled to Ukraine to meet with the Football Federation of Ukraine (FFU), the Ukrainian Premier League (UPL) and the National Assembly of Disabled People (NAIU) to discuss CAFE's ongoing cooperation.

Managing Director Joanna Deagle and Eastern European Development Officer Esther Jones Russell met with the FFU's Yuriy Tytarenko and Vadim Kostyuchenko. The meeting was held at the FFU headquarters in Kyiv, with CAFE-trained audio-descriptive commentator Liubomyr Pokotylo also attending.

CAFE and the FFU have enjoyed a long-term collaborative relationship, working together since the build-up to UEFA EURO 2012 which Ukraine co-hosted. The CAFE Week of Action was also founded in Ukraine, with activities held each year to celebrate Total Football Total Access.

As part of a previous UEFA Captains of Change project, the FFU employed two disabled people as interns. Since then, they have also appointed a deaf person as a member of the groundstaff at the national stadium. This demonstrates the FFU's commitment to serving as an inclusive workplace, and also highlights some of the many diverse roles disabled people can play within the game.

The FFU also works closely with a rehabilitation project for armed forces personnel, and they fly five injured soldiers to each home match played by the Ukrainian national team.

CAFE and the FFU are keen to continue our positive cooperation, and we look forward to many more great stories of access and inclusion.

During their trip, Joanna and Esther also met with representatives of the Ukrainian Premier League.

It was highlighted during this meeting that disabled fans are still attending live matches in Ukraine in good numbers, with around 80 disabled fans travelling to Odesa for the recent Ukrainian Super Cup between Dynamo Kyiv and Shakhtar Donetsk.

The UPL outlined their commitment to access and inclusion, and their support for the CAFE Week of Action, which will take place this season on 3-11 March 2018.

Finally, Joanna, Esther and Liubomyr met with the NAIU General Secretary Viktoria Nazarenko and her colleagues to discuss wider access and inclusion in Ukrainian society.

CAFE and the NAIU worked closely together on the UEFA Respect Inclusion - Football with No Limits - project around UEFA EURO 2012, and the NAIU worked as our local implementing partner in the 4 Ukrainian host cities.

The team discussed how there are now 95 low-level accessible buses operating in Kyiv, with information presented in both audio and visual format on almost all public transport. The NAIU now also offers an official course on access appraisals, based on the works carried out by both CAFE and the NAIU ahead of UEFA EURO 2012.

Speaking after the meeting, Esther said, "It was fantastic to see the continued legacy of improved access created by UEFA EURO 2012. There is a real enthusiasm across the FFU, UPL and NAIU to further develop and improve, using the unique power of football".

"CAFE is really looking forward to working closely with all three organisations to continue to promote Total Football Total Access", Esther added.

Published 23/11/2017