For many football fans with autism, anxiety or other similar disabilities, attending a match at a stadium is simply not possible. To provide disabled fans with these opportunities, Chelsea Football Club and Chelsea FC Foundation are delighted to host families from across the UK in our sensory room at Stamford Bridge so they can support the Chelsea players in action.
Over the past three seasons, over 100 families have enjoyed a matchday experience with our trained Chelsea FC Foundation staff, allowing both children and adults the opportunity to enjoy a match at Stamford Bridge.
Recently, our cameras followed one such family on their journey to the sensory room and throughout their visit to the home of Chelsea Football Club, and the video can be watched below…
Heather, the mother of two young fans, Alexander and Charlotte, said of their visit: ‘With the crowds and noise I was worried I would never be able to take them to a game. The kids’ cousins go to games and I always felt that this would not be possible for our children. The sensory room means it is now possible and that just because you have a disability does not mean you can’t access things that neurotypical people can.’
Many of those who attend the sensory room also take part in the Foundation’s pan-disability programme hosted at the Chelsea training ground in Cobham, whereby they have the opportunity to learn new skills and develop as people and footballers in an environment suitable to their needs.
The Chelsea FC Foundation’s Inclusion and Disability programme offers a variety of activities and experiences for children and adults with disabilities or additional needs. This includes weekly pan-disability football sessions in Surrey and Kingston, community provision for people with an amputation or cerebral palsy, as well as national teams for these disabilities in their specific format.
This includes mixed-gender participation across all provision alongside matchday experiences in the sensory room, and non-matchday opportunities for local organisations who wish to use the space.
Ellie Crabb, inclusion and disability senior officer, said: ‘I am very proud of the experience we provide, from organising a family’s trip to the sensory room to watch a Chelsea match to the live experience with our fantastic team of staff.
‘Providing Alexander and Charlotte the opportunity to play football with us and have a matchday experience to grow in confidence and feel included is so important to us. We hope to continue to offer this first-class experience to many more children and adults.’
To find out more about the club’s sensory room or join our inclusive football provision, please email firstname.lastname@example.org