Ahead of UEFA EURO 2012, the Centre for Access to Football in Europe (CAFE) is training a number of volunteers in each of the eight host cities – Gdansk, Poznan, Warsaw and Wroclaw (Poland), and Donetsk, Kharkiv, Kyiv and Lviv (Ukraine) – to provide audio descriptive commentary at every match of the championship.
CAFE is delivering the official UEFA EURO 2012 Respect Inclusion – Football With No Limits project and one of its aims is to offer audio descriptive commentary services for blind and partially sighted supporters. Audio descriptive commentary differs from generic commentary in being much more atmosphere and ambience-based as opposed to a statistical analysis. The purpose of the service is to explain to blind and partially sighted fans 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 Switzerland, to run the training programmes. Zwischenberger and his team are specialists in audio descriptive commentary, and have continued to supply commentaries across Austria as a legacy of their work four years ago.
To prepare for Poland and Ukraine, seminars organised by CAFE in Warsaw and Kyiv have been attended by 50 committed volunteers from all eight host cities. The volunteers learned of the benefits of audio descriptive commentary and what sets it apart from what is heard on television. The highly enthusiastic volunteers then experienced 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 for 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."
Media conferences were arranged at each seminar in cooperation with CAFE's UEFA EURO 2012 Respect Inclusion local implementing partners, Fundacja TUS in Poland and the National Assembly of Disabled People in Ukraine. They were very well attended – underlining once more that the excitement is building as UEFA EURO 2012 draws ever nearer.
The UEFA EURO 2012 Respect Inclusion project ambassadors Dariusz Dziekanowski and Oleksiy Mykhaylychenko also showed solidarity by appearing at the Warsaw and Kyiv events respectively.
"The training seminars were an overwhelming success," said CAFE managing director Joyce Cook, "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 championship, CAFE will base two audio descriptive commentators at every game as part of the UEFA EURO 2012 Respect Inclusion intiative. These will offer a specialised commentary for blind and partially sighted supporters within the stadium, who will tune in via headsets provided prior to the match. The specialist equipment is being made available by UEFA EURO 2012 organisers, and 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 – which is also supported by the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport of the Council of Europe – is just the start for audio descriptive commentary in Poland and Ukraine, and expects the trained commentators to continue to use their newly acquired skills after the championship is over.
As the official charity of the finals, CAFE will be using any funds donated to continue the work undertaken under the umbrella of UEFA EURO 2012 Respect Inclusion.
Please donate online at http://euro2012.cafefootball.eu/.
The Respect Inclusion programme takes the form of three separate schemes, with UEFA collaborating with CAFE on each of: Football With No Limits, the Showcase Games, and the UEFA EURO 2012 Tournament charity project.
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