If you’re a football fan there’s a lot of things to admire when watching a game.
Messi running rings around his opponents, Ronaldo flawlessly powering a free-kick into the top-corner or Boro attempting to reach the play-offs with a formation consisting of five central midfielders!
The entire purpose of going to a football game is the tantalising prospect of watching your team score more goals than the opposition, as well as sampling the atmosphere as the home crowd screams its adulation.
But what would that experience be like if you couldn’t see?
That’s the prospect facing thousands of blind or partially-sighted football fans who attend matches every week.
How do they picture Messi’s mesmerising display’s or Ronaldo’s free-kicks?
The answer: audio descriptive commentary.
What are the statistics?
There are two million people in the UK living with sight loss, which means one person in 33 suffers from a visual impairment.
For these people, going to a football match may not be the most appealing proposal. You already need good eyesight to see the what’s happening on the pitch – especially from the away end of St James’ Park in Newcastle!
And with almost 50 million football fans attending matches in the UK each year , that means around 1.5 million people go to football games without being able to see what’s going on.
Audio descriptive commentary (ADC) tries to aid that statistic by providing a service better suited to the listener than a normal radio or TV commentary.
First introduced in England in 2007, the main purpose of ADC is to describe, in detail, the events happening on the pitch. This means that the listener knows what is going on, to the second.
Ten years later, Middlesbrough Football Club introduced their audio descriptive commentary package, asking Teesside University student Andy Munns to be its voice…
What is it like for someone listening to an audio descriptive commentary?
Picture this. It’s a mild October afternoon on Teesside. Middlesbrough have the chance to regain first place if they beat Nottingham Forest, now managed by ex-Boro boss Aitor Karanka.
It’s half-time and Forest have had the better of the chances. The atmosphere inside the ground is growing with both sets of fans going back and forth between each other.
The second half starts and Joe Lolley opens the scoring for the away side. Chants of ‘Aitor Karanka, Aitor Karanka’ echo from the away end. A miserable second half for the home side is finally put to bed when ex-Sunderland forward Lewis Grabban doubles Forest’s lead.
Despite it not being remembered too fondly ’round these parts, that afternoon was particularly special to one fan because of the audio description Andy provided that day.
Gary Franklin explains his situation and recalls what it was like to experience the game…
Trainee Sports Journalist at Teesside University. Big Boro fan and also enjoy European football. Presenter on TUXtra Radio.