Crawley Town FC is to provide visually impaired fans with an audio description of the action at every home game next season.
The Reds were given a £1,000 grant by the Longley Trust to cover the cost of training a group of commentators, while the club itself provided the money to buy the necessary equipment.
Barbara Robinson, chair of the club’s Disabled Supporters’ Association (DSA), has been overseeing the project and said she hoped fans with sight problems who had stopped attending matches would be tempted back.
She added: “The aim is anyone who wants to come to the match and needs or wants audio description, it will be available.”
Thirteen volunteers underwent training to become audio descriptive commentator and four were finally chosen to provide the free service.
Visually impaired fans will be given headphones and a receiver which can be used anywhere in the ground meaning there will be no need for them to be segregated into one particular area.
During training, the commentators were given a taste of what it’s like to try to keep up with a game which you cannot see. They were told to close their eyes and listen to some Match of the Day style commentary.
While they knew when a goal had been scored, none of them had any idea how it was scored or what had happened during the build-up play.
Barbara said: “It’s no use saying ‘Gerrard has the ball’, you would say ‘the ball is in the centre circle and Gerrard has it’. That way people can visualise where it is on the pitch.”
The four commentators will be learning their skills in private during the final games of this season and during the pre-season matches.
They have been given recordings of some outstanding games on which to practice – the likes of Real Madrid v Barcelona.
If they can keep track of the likes of Ronaldo and Messi, Crawley Town v Barnsley should be no problem at all.
Visiting fans as well as Reds supporters will have access to the receivers. Initially there will be 10 available, although that may increase if demand is high.