Yorkshire Times
Voice of the North
4:43 PM 29th October 2019

Rotherham United Football Club Flies The Flag For Inclusive Sport

Service users and staff from Sense at New York Stadium in Rotherham
Service users and staff from Sense at New York Stadium in Rotherham
A group of sixteen disabled people were honorary flag bearers at Saturday’s game between Rotherham United Football Club and Oxford United, in a move aimed at raising disability awareness.

Thousands of football fans cheered on the flag bearers, who are supported at the local Rotherham Sense Centre, run by national disability charity Sense.

Sense staff also organised a sensory football challenge in the fan-zone area of the stadium, which simulated the experience of visual impairments and hearing loss.

Sense organised the event in collaboration with Rotherham United Community Sports Trust and Rotherham United Disabled Supporters’ Association. It was held to raise awareness during National Hate Crime Awareness Week.

Paul Downes, Regional Sports Coordinator (North) at Sense, said:
“Our service users had a brilliant day at Rotherham United. The atmosphere was electric and they were very excited to go out on to the pitch in front of 10,000 people. We met lots of fans who got involved with our sensory football challenge. The feedback from the football community was really positive and it was a great way to raise awareness.

“It’s so important that people with complex disabilities can take part in sport and physical activities which have huge physical, mental and emotional benefits. Rotherham United are great advocates of inclusive sports and we look forward to running many more events together in the future.”

Jamie Noble, Head of Community at Rotherham United Football Club, said:
“Rotherham United is committed to making the football club as inclusive as it can be to the people in our community and I hope that we were able to reaffirm that message with our themed game against Oxford United, which was dedicated to raising hate crime awareness and the fantastic work done by charities like Sense and the Deaf and Blind Trust.

“It was great to see so many of our supporters trying out the sensory football goal on the forecourt at the stadium, where I think they were able to momentarily appreciate the challenges that can come with living with a disability. On behalf of everyone associated with the football club, I would like to say a huge thank you to the representatives from Sense, who gave up their time to join us at AESSEAL New York Stadium.”

Earlier this year, Sense was awarded £1.3 million by Sport England to tackle the issue of inactivity amongst people with complex disabilities. The Sense Centre in Rotherham provides support for disabled people to get creative, develop skills and connect with others.

To find out more about Sense Sports, visit:

About Sense:
Sense is a national disability charity that supports people living with complex disabilities, including those who are deafblind, to communicate and experience the world. Sense supports children, young people and adults in their home and in the community, in their education and transition to adulthood and through its holidays, arts, sports and wellbeing programmes. In addition to practical support to families, Sense also offers information advice, short breaks and family events, and campaigns for the rights of people with complex disabilities to take part in life. For more information please visit