Skip to main content Skip to site footer

Level Playing Field - Meet the Sheffield Sports Commentaries team

9 March 2020

Sponsored by

United were thrilled to mark Level Playing Field's 2020 Weeks of Action by showcasing the vital work undertaken by the Sheffield Sports Commentaries team.

Level Playing Field highlights the positive initiatives undertaken by clubs, sporting venues and their governing bodies in partnership with disabled sports fans and disabled supporters' associations (DSAs).

This season's 'Weeks of Action' took place between 29th February and 15th March, and before Saturday's home game with Norwich, United's matchday programme, UTB, caught up with Sheffield Sport Commentaries' volunteers Jonathan Haigh and Terry Sweet to discuss the vital work of those making sport as enjoyable as possible for visually-impaired and other disabled supporters.

This year marks Sheffield Sports Commentaries' 70th anniversary with Terry explaining the volunteer-lead group has come a long way from humble beginnings.

"Years ago, we would sit with a blind or visually impaired person, and you spoke about what was happening directly to them," said Terry.

"Of course, this had to happen in a designated area. There was no technology or headsets at that time, but over the years, there have been developments. Now supporters can pick up a headset and listen to us anywhere in stadium which of course means they can sit with their pals."

The service is available at every home matchday at Bramall Lane, as well as across the city at Hillsborough, and as Jonathan points out it is not just visually impaired supporters who can benefit from the service.

"It's a free service and easily accessible," explains Jonathan.

"Our aim is to spread the message and increase the numbers of those listening. We have around 10-15 people using it at the moment, but we'd like to see that grow.

"It is not just people who are visually impaired who can use the service. There are those with conditions which might find the head set helpful to block out the noise. I know that people with autism or dementia can really benefit from something like this."

Finally, Jonathan and Terry wanted to thank the clubs and volunteers for the continued support in providing what is a crucial matchday service.

"I'd like to thank the clubs for all the support and access they give us," said Jonathan.

"I have to mention our colleagues Andy Willis and Callum Cheswick, and also Phil Riley who is the longest serving member of our team. There's also Mark Rothman, George Smith and Ben Ruth who are involved with us."

Terry adds: "We have a regular listener at Bramall Lane, and they also tell us if there are any technical issues. Alan Clarke is the man who does this at United and at Hillsborough it is Sally McCauge. Special mention to those two for their help."

To pick up a headset on a matchday couldn't be easier. They can be collected from either John Street or South Stand reception and returned there after the match.

Advertisement block