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Published on 12 April 2012
“Before, listening to commentary was like a black and white movie. By the end of the training seminar, I saw a rainbow”
Ahead of UEFA EURO 2012, the Centre for Access to Football in Europe (CAFE) is training a number of volunteers in each host city to provide Audio Descriptive Commentary at every match during the tournament, with additional support from the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport, Council of Europe.
CAFE is delivering the official UEFA EURO 2012 Respect Inclusion – Football with No Limits project and one of the aims is to provide Audio Descriptive commentary services for blind and partially sighted supporters. Audio Descriptive Commentary differs to generic commentary as it is much more atmosphere and ambience based as opposed to a statistical analysis. The purpose of this service is to explain to blind and partially sighted supporters exactly what is happening in the stadium and on the pitch in as much detail as possible.
CAFE has appointed Martin Zwischenberger, who coordinated a similar service during UEFA EURO 2008 in Austria and Vienna, to run the training programmes. Martin and his team are specialists in providing Audio Descriptive Commentary, and have continued to provide the service across Austria in legacy.
Recent seminars held by CAFE in the host cities of Warsaw and Kiev were attended by 50 committed volunteersfrom all 8 host cities, who were told of the benefits of Audio Descriptive Commentary and how it differs to what they may hear on television. The highly enthusiastic volunteers were then given their first taste of the service with an intensive two days of initial training, which is now continuing at home and will include further specialist training at live matches before the tournament.
Larysa Sayevich, Project Coordinator in Donetsk with CAFE’s Ukrainian local implementing partner the National Assembly of Disabled People and a blind football supporter herself, said, “Before, listening to commentary was like a black and white movie. By the end of the training seminar, I saw a rainbow”.
Press conferences were arranged at each seminar in cooperation with CAFE’s UEFA EURO 2012 Respect Inclusion project local implementing partners, Fundacja TUS in Poland and the National Assembly of Disabled People in Ukraine. They were very well attended, and it is clear that the excitement is building as UEFA EURO 2012 draws ever nearer.
The UEFA EURO 2012 Respect Inclusion project Ambassadors Dariusz Dziekanowski and Oleksiy Mykhailychenko also showed their solidarity in attending the Warsaw and Kiev events respectively.
CAFE Managing Director Joyce Cook said, “The training seminars were an overwhelming success, and we have been lucky enough to discover a large pool of volunteers with a real passion for Audio Descriptive Commentary. Many of the volunteers had no previous experience of commentating, and it was very exciting for us to see how well they took to it. It is now crucial that the volunteers continue to develop their skills ahead of UEFA EURO 2012”.
During the tournament, CAFE will base two Audio Descriptive Commentators at each match as part of the UEFA EURO 2012 Respect Inclusion project. They will then provide specialised commentary for blind and partially sighted supporters within the stadium, who will tune in via headsets provided prior to the game. The specialist equipment is being provided by UEFA EURO 2012 and this will be dedicated to CAFE’s ongoing legacy project in both countries following the tournament.
CAFE is clear that the UEFA EURO 2012 Respect Inclusion – Football with No Limits project is just the start for Audio Descriptive Commentary in Poland and Ukraine, and expects the trained commentators continue to use their newly-acquired skills after the tournament draws to a close. CAFE’s aim is to leave a long-lasting legacy in the host nations, with Audio Descriptive Commentary becoming a service that is provided across football and beyond for many years to come.
As the official charity of the tournament, CAFE will be using funds donated to continue the works undertaken under the umbrella of UEFA EURO 2012 Respect Inclusion.