Woody Welcomes Chelsea
The atmosphere on Friday night was electric for Thomas Franks 200th game in charge and the minutes applause for Howard Billings at 76 minutes was a fitting tribute for someone who had dedicated 40 years of his life, working the turnstiles at Griffin Park... and ofcourse the result was the cherry on the cake.
And after waiting four weeks for a home game, we are now treated to two in a week.
On Wednesday night Chelsea will come to the Gtech stadium and, following on from the stunning result against Brighton, Woody and I are excited for another evening game.
The Chelsea Foundation is very impressive. It is wide reaching in its inclusion and supports thousands of people to access sport both locally and internationally. The Foundation supports football coaching, education, health and wellbeing and social inclusion to name but a few.
One of the things that we really like about The Chelsea Foundation is that they host regular ‘Community Days’. These events are organised alongside charities and allow fans and their carers to meet the players and spend time at the club. We loved reading about the latest Community Day which started with a welcome from the match day presenter, Lee Parker. Those who attended got front row seats to a training session led by Chelsea Manager, Graham Potter. But the biggest highlight for one of the attendees, John, was meeting his favourite player, Thiago Silva. John was nervous but had an amazing time. What an absolute treat for the young fans!
The Chelsea Foundation have been supportive of the Down syndrome community in many ways. They established the Chelsea Community Lions Football Club which allows those with Down syndrome who want to play football, to play together. Chelsea do have a Pan Disability programme, which means a team of individuals with a variety of disabilities plays together, however a team specific to those with Down syndrome means the coaching can be tailored to the specific learning style of those with DS.
Chelsea was also able to offer Jo Carrodus the chance to help with coaching some of their teams. Jo has Down syndrome and passed her FA Level One Coaching qualification in 2018. Jo already had a lot of experience as a football player having been part of the Totnes and Dartington Football Club disability group for many years. But she was thrilled to be able to work with the Chelsea Foundation.
It was also amazing to read about Princess Eugenie (yes actual royalty) who, in 2009, worked alongside Sir David Tang, the Chairman of the Hong Kong Down Syndrome Association to enable a football exchange to the UK for the Hong Kong Down Syndrome Association Dragons Football team. The team were hosted by Chelsea and got to meet Frank Lampard. They also had lunch at Kensington Palace before enjoying some sightseeing around the capital.
We previously mentioned the pan disability programme that the Chelsea Foundation has, this was established in 2003. One story that jumped out to Woody and I was that of Harvey Greenaway. Harvey suffered a traumatic brain injury after a car accident. He spent many months in hospital including intensive care and his rehabilitation took a lot of time and effort. The Doctors believed Harvey wouldn’t be able to walk or talk again. Harvey has always been a huge football fan and through the Chelsea Foundation he has been able to play football again. Harvey himself described the specialist coaching he received at the club as a ‘lifeline’.
Finally, we really want to highlight the accessibility at Stamford Bridge. The ground offers lots of ways for supporters who have a disability to access and enjoy the match day experience. There were several initiatives which really stood out to us. Visually impaired fans can request complimentary earphones which allows them to listen to the commentary of the game. The Sunflower lanyard scheme is recognised by the club and allows those with a hidden disability to get support from stewards during the match. As well as there being plenty of disabled toilets there is also a Changing Places facility and on match days there is a mobile Changing Places called a ‘mobiloo’, which provides another option for fans. Supporters can submit a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) to the club. This means that fans who might not be able to get to a safe place in a timely manner during an emergency will have an appropriate escape plan. And finally, fans can pre order food and drink via the CFC Express app. This can then be delivered to them in their seat. How amazing is all of that?
We are very much looking forward to showing Chelsea how amazing Brentford is at ensuring the safety and accessibility for its disabled fans on Wednesday night.