Peter Busuttil is the SLO and DAO at the Malta FA, and reports to the association’s president and general secretary. Peter has only been in this role since 2016 and does the job on a part-time basis, but he has already made some progress in terms of improving access and inclusion across Malta.

What does a typical day as DAO at a national association look like?

At present, we are working on a number of short and long-term initiatives. A typical day will include meetings with various stakeholders and staff members to resolve issues pertaining to accessibility. When we receive requests from disabled fans at the national stadium on a matchday, we follow them up and ensure that all the necessary logistics are in place.

We also reach out to local associations and individuals to discuss how we can engage with them and attract them to our stadiums. We work with local stadiums to improve their facilities in the short term, as well as proposing long-term solutions.

What kind of ad hoc duties are you required to carry out as the DAO at your national association?

Some of my duties include replying to emails from supporters who require assistance, attending meetings with disabled supporters, visiting stadiums as part of follow-up site assessments and organising internal meetings with the MFA’s communications department.

Is there anything in particular that you have successfully implemented or changed at your national association as DAO?

We have begun a comprehensive process aimed at finding structural solutions for our stadiums, and this year we participated in the CAFE Week of Action for the first time, organising two sessions locally for club DAOs and MFA staff in cooperation with CAFE.

We have also increased communication and discussions with national entities dealing with disability and access issues and are implementing changes to facilitate access and inclusivity.

What are some of the challenges you have faced in your role as DAO and how have you dealt with them?

We are perhaps not as aware as we should be of certain issues in this particular field. We need to improve our own knowledge and understanding of such matters, as well as that of other stakeholders. This will take time, but we are determined to overcome this challenge.

How do you meet, liaise and work with disabled fans in Malta?

One of those fans, Manuel Callejja, is now a part-time volunteer and assists me in all our projects. Manuel also encounters challenges in terms of accessibility owing to his disability and he dedicates his time to addressing access issues. We have also met and talked to a number of associations that deal with disability.

What impact do you think Article 35bis of the UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations, which requires clubs to appoint a DAO, will have on football?

I hope it will be more than just cosmetic. There are many potential supporters out there who should be playing a part in our sport. Having a DAO will increase awareness and accessibility. The very appointment of a DAO is a starting point.

What top three tips would you give someone who is about to start work as a DAO at a national association?

  1. Listen
  2. Communicate
  3. Implement

Click here to download the UEFA and CAFE Disability Access Officer Handbook.

A version of this article is also available in Russian, Italian, French, German and Portuguese.

Published 27/09/2017