By Charlie MacKinnon

Southampton Disability Supporters Association (SDSA) hosted their annual accessibility day at St Mary’s Stadium on Tuesday 22 August, with the Fans for Diversity fund supporting the event.

The event took place for its seventh consecutive year, with hundreds of supporters in attendance at the home of the Saints. The SDSA host the event with the aim of celebrating and raising awareness for disabled fans.

A number of fun activities were available for the fans to partake in, with a host of Southampton legends supporting the event including Lawrie McMenemy MBE, Francis Benali, Rueben Agboola, Manny Andruszweski, Mark Dennis, and Jim Steele, who posed for photographs and signed autographs for the supporters across the day.

Benali, an ambassador for the SDSA, spoke of the importance of the occasion.

“I think it’s such a fantastic event. There’s a great connection between the SDSA and the football club. It’s great to get the opportunity to come to St Mary’s when it’s not match-day so the supporters can see the stadium up close.

“For me as a former Saints player and someone who’s an ambassador for the SDSA, it’s great to come down to support and enjoy the day.”

Paul Lucas, Secretary of the SDSA, was thankful of the support of Fans for Diversity, and stressed the importance of disabled fans in football.

“Days like today would not be possible if it wasn’t for groups like Kick It Out, the FSF, Fans for Diversity and Anwar Uddin, who has helped us right the way through for the last three years, and helped us make a big success of it all.

“These events allow people to come in from the community and mix with disabled people, we are able to speak to young people and show them that disability is not something to be frightened of. It’s helped us to become one of the biggest disabled supporters’ groups in the country, so we’re delighted with the impact it’s had.”

Mark Harpur, Vice-Chairman of SDSA, was delighted with the impact the event has had on fans and community alike.

“The event has grown each year, it’s an opportunity for both non-disabled and disabled fans to come together in the surroundings of our team, to promote some of the work that’s going on the local area.”