Newport County AFC Disabled Supporters Association (DSA) was formed two years ago and launched with a Funday held at Rodney Parade. Since that day the group has been actively championing issues for disabled supporters to improve their matchday experience; this has included obtaining blankets, ear defenders and emergency ponchos with the generous help of local companies.
As an independent group and member of Level Playing Field we are in place to represent the disabled supporters but we always aim to do so in a way that helps the club improve. We have always sought to address a problem with the club and suggest a resolution rather than just make a complaint and to date this has worked affectively as we are often consulted by the club on policy and issues in this area.
The DSA take the lead on providing support to disabled supporters on matchdays to take some of the pressure off the club. With limited facilities at Rodney Parade for Disabled fans it has been important to provide face to face contacts to support those fans who require it.
The DSA have many examples of how their work has enabled fans with disability to attend games; one example of this is supporting a fan who had missed many games due to having a stroke. DSA members worked with the family to improve their confidence and the fan has now been re-engaged and is able to gain enjoyment from an activity that he enjoys. Both he and his wife are now season ticket holders. The DSA has also helped a few others and would encourage anyone in a similar situation to contact the DSA directly or one of your local authorities Community Connectors to reach out to us.
The group have obtained ASDinfoWales’ “Autism Awareness” status following a campaign during World Autism Awareness Week and are working with the club to achieve further status of awareness for other areas of disability, some of which we hope the club can announce soon
After the excitement of the last gasp survival from relegation, the club has undertaken a new branding and the DSA felt it applicable to do so also with a new logo and some changes. With the help from feedback from supporters we have worked with Sticky Ink to design a logo to includes symbols covering all areas of disability and includes the clubs branding of #OneClubOneCounty to celebrate the club’s effort for inclusion including having a disabled supporter as part of the kit launch photoshoot. In addition, over the summer we have worked with the club in improving the information on the website for disabled supporters visiting Rodney Parade on a matchday.
Membership is free and is open to anyone Membership includes the opportunity to vote for a monthly player award along with Player of the Year. For disabled members a free radar key for use at the ground (an across the UK) for disabled toilets is available along with a membership card with key details about matchday needs that can be used if there are communication or confidence issues. In addition, at the end of the season there will be an AGM where members can vote & run for positions on the DSA Committee.
The DSA has enlisted the support of two new player ambassadors (Tom Owen-Evans and Robbie Willmott) to help promote our work and attend events to add to the already great work by Joe Day and Michael Flynn. As Flynny has taken the position of managing the club, both the DSA and the local legend recognise it will reduce his capacity to support us as much as he would like so we have asked him to become our first Patron of the DSA and he will do what he can to support us in any way he can. Finally, after we unfortunately lost one of our oldest supporters last season, Herbert Howard at the age of 95, and in recognition of his family’s support of our work we are naming Herbert as an Honorary Chairman (Posthumous). The family asked us to accept the donations at his funeral along with the money form the signed player t-shirts celebrating Howard at the Alfreton game last season and we asked if we could use the money for our end of season award and so this season will be awarding the Herbert Howard DSA Player of the Year Award for the first time.
We will be working with the club on additional projects this year, once we know the WRU’s plans for the ground and disabled facilities along with plans for next season. If you would like to contact us for any further information on items in this article you can email us at colin.faulkner@AmberDSA.Wales and we will be happy to work with you. You can also contact us on Twitter; @AmberDSA or search for NCAFC DSA on Facebook