As part of International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we wanted to get a fans’ perspective and so we invited Bluebirds fanatic Katie Wearing to share her experiences of supporting the Club.
I have been a Barrow AFC supporter for as long as I can remember, and I can remember going to my first big game back in 1990. I was almost five years old, and it was at Wembley. Over the years, I have managed to get to a few of the bigger games such as: Sunderland and then the most recent trip to Wembley.
Being a supporter gives me something fun to feel excited about and I always look forward to whenever I can get to a match. Like many others, it’s an escape from life, meaning that no matter what is happening with my health, once I’m at a match, my focus is on the players and cheering them on, and not my health.
I love the community spirit within the Club, especially in the more recent times. From my own experiences, I know that they do listen and try their best to make it the most enjoyable for all fans, no matter who they are. It makes me feel very included which is important as often as a disabled person, we are often seen as an afterthought. We do tend to get excluded in many ways so when I come to the ground, I’m just another supporter and that’s a great feeling.
It’s not always easy being a supporter that has many different health issues. I have a multi- systemic, connective tissue disorder called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome which is an umbrella term for having numerous co-morbidities. EDS is often referred to as a rare disease. I have one of the rarer types: Classical, as there are 13 types known.
Some of the issues I have to deal with in connection to the football is dealing with the cold wintery weather, due to having a circulation condition which causes my lower limbs to swell and be painful. That’s the thing with having a syndrome like EDS, you have to find out what helps and it’s all a case of trial and error.
EDS is something that affects pretty much any part of the body, and it affects each person differently. Besides the circulation condition, it mostly affects my muscular, skin and skeletal systems. It causes me to have poor healing, weak muscles and unstable/lax joints. Doing activities such as contact sports like football are a definite no-no for me! To find out more, feel free to check out my website at worldofdinky.co.uk!
Since becoming more of a regular supporter at the ground, whenever I have had any issues, the staff have been quick to rectify. There are plenty of staff around on match days who are happy to assist with anything you may need. There are two disabled areas which are sheltered, and they are easy to access. I’d say you feel safer as you have more space and staff are nearby.
Most recently, the Club has set up a Disabled Supporters’ Association so, as a disabled supporter, I really do feel valued, more so now than I ever have previously. I’m thankful for being a supporter of the Barrow AFC and the Club as a whole.
I’m excited to see how else things can be more improved over time to make it even more enjoyable than it already is and to keep cheering on the players.