The annual UEFA Monaco Charity Award of CHF 1m has been presented to the UK National Association of Disabled Supporters for its Centre for Access to Football in Europe project.
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The annual UEFA Monaco Charity Award of CHF 1m has been presented to the UK National Association of Disabled Supporters (NADS) for its Centre for Access to Football in Europe (CAFE) project, a four-year development programme.
UEFA President Michel Platini presented Joyce Cook, NADS chair and managing director of CAFE, and former Manchester United FC player Danny Wallace – ambassador for NADS and CAFE – with the cheque at the UEFA Champions League group-stage draw ceremony in Monaco on Thursday.
Access for disabled fans
The objective of the CAFE project is to offer further access for disabled fans to football games and improve stadium infrastructures to this end across Europe. It also aims to raise awareness and enhance the lives of disabled people using the special influence of football within Europe, as well as building up a network of disabled supporter groups across the continent.
UEFA's grant will help NADS develop the CAFE initiative throughout Europe, by making the game more accessible for disabled fans, but also contributing to the inclusion of disabled people within social life as a whole. Through the CAFE programme, the UK body will be able to share its expertise and give support and guidance to all stakeholders – including UEFA, national associations, leagues, clubs and fans, as well as disabled supporter groups.
"I want to say a huge thank you to UEFA on behalf of disabled people across Europe," said Joyce Cook. "We are delighted by this decision which highlights UEFA's recognition of disabled supporters and its commitment to creating an equal experience for all football fans.
"Using the special influence of football within Europe, CAFE will raise disability awareness and improve the lives of disabled people," she added. "I believe that through football, CAFE will contribute to strengthening understanding of disability and help disabled people become welcome in communities across Europe and valued, alongside non-disabled supporters, at the heart of the football-going experience. Thanks to UEFA's generosity, our vision has been transformed into an achievable plan designed to span all 53 UEFA member associations."
The CAFE website – cafefootball.eu– to be launched shortly will create a multilingual, accessible and inclusive European hub which will grow organically over time. It will supply disabled supporter information on European football stadia alongside disability, access and building regulations guidance, with help sheets and support materials. It will also provide an evolving database containing information on disabled fan groups and associated organisations across football in Europe.
Click here to read more about the National Association of Disabled Supporters.