An organization initiated by FIFA
In 2009, UEFA financed a whole new independent organisation with the purpose to increase integration for disabled in the world of football. The goal was to make it possible for disabled fans to look at games live in the entire UEFA-region. CAFE, standing for Centre for Access to Football in Europe, strives to support clubs and arenas in the progress of increasing availability in all arenas, and facilities adjacent to the arenas. Besides this, they want to raise awareness of the sport and help football fans establish a network for disabled fan groups. Since 2009 CAFE is working to change the lives of thousands of disabled persons in Europe by the force of one of the worlds´ most popular sports. There are lots of factors to take into consideration when it comes to increasing availability for the disabled. The most common is to create possibilities for those in a wheelchair to access arenas and other public places. Another aspect to consider are those with seeing or hearing disabilities. There are different types of services on gamedays that are evolving all the time, in forms of sound and visual applications for smart phones and other handsets for disabled people. Through these they can get reports and information on the games.
Different roles in football
Through the work, many disabled can enjoy live football with their friends, family or other fans. The football clubs in Europe have become more aware of the importance of including the disabled and increasing access to arenas. Sports unite and build bridges; we can all agree on that. With the work that is being done in the clubs around Europe, football as a branch, has become more available. Disabled people have important roles to play, not just the role as fans but also as trainers, administrators and leaders. CAFE have, after ten years of business, established themselves as the leading voice of disabled in the world of football. They work closely with stakeholders, partners and fans to spread the message that is trending on social media #TotalAccess.
The people behind the work
One of the most important persons in the work is CEO of CAFE, Joanna Deagle. She started her work at CAFE in 2014 and was named CEO after two years employment. Joanna´s work is mostly made up of evolving the organisation and increasing the cooperation with UEFA and other external actors to spread the work across Europe, and beyond. Before she started working at CAFE, Joanna worked a lot in organisations defending the rights of the disabled. Among other she was very engaged in the Brazilian Paralympic team. Another key person in the project is Michael Rice who works as a media and communications director. His main work is to deal with CAFE´s website and other social medias. He markets the organisation and makes sure that the information is spread all over the world, mainly by the social medias, His experience, from Premiere League, has had a huge turnout since he is a well-known person in the world of football. Since CAFE works for access and availability for the disabled, it is important to lead by example. Most people working in these organisations have disabilities of their own. Who can, better than them, see what needs to be done?