Bradford Disability Football Club
Bradford Disability Football Club

Date Added 30/03/2016

A NEW exhibition celebrating Bradford City fans who have learning disabilities is set to be unveiled before an upcoming home game.

The collection of photographs will be displayed permanently in the concourse of the JCT600 Main Stand from April 9.

The exhibition, titled 'Being a Bantam' will be unveiled before the Bantams' game against Swindon Town as part of the club's Level Playing Field day, which celebrates the club's work with people with a learning disability.

There will also be a match between Bradford and Swindon's disability teams as part of the celebrations.

The photos were taken by Bradford City fans with learning disabilities as part of a research study by a student at Leeds Beckett University, aimed at exploring the benefits of being a supporter of a football club can have for people with learning disabilities, celebrating the diversity of football fans, and de-stigmatising learning disabilities.

The Being a Bantam project was the idea of Dr Kris Southby, research officer in the School of Health and Community Studies at Leeds Beckett, who worked with disabled fans as part of his PhD research.

Dr Southby said: "Many football clubs have a disability team, and so I approached several clubs' community contacts and asked to be put into contact with players that were also fans of their club who would be interested in speaking about their experiences of going to games.

"I had a total of 15 participants, all with various types of learning disabilities.

"We spoke about what being a football fan meant to them, and I attended games with them to experience what is was like first-hand.

"Some people with a learning disability can also struggle to fully explain their thoughts, so I decided to use photography in my research, getting them to take photos and then use these as prompts in conversations."

The photographs which will be on display at the stadium tell the story of some of the key elements of being a football fan that are important to the Being a Bantam participants.

"The idea is that viewing the pictures will convey a message about the positivity of fans with a learning disability, the inclusivity and diversity of the football crowd, and de-stigmatise learning disability.

"My research shows the diversity of football fans with a learning disability; all the people that took part engage in different activities in their lives.

"I found that there are many benefits of being a football fan to the people I interviewed; there is a strong association with developing a positive social identity and a feeling of belonging for people who might otherwise be quite isolated and detached from social interactions. Football acts as a good opportunity for them to meet new people, and creates opportunities in real life to interact with other people and to become more involved."

David Dowse, Bradford City FC’s facilities manager, said: "The Being a Bantam project has provided a group of fans with the opportunity to extend their skills and show just what the football experience means to them.

"We are proud of the links we have with fans with a physical or a learning disability and hope that the photographs will become a long-lasting display of how important football is to the lives of many true fans of the club."

"The idea is that viewing the pictures will convey a message about the positivity of fans with a learning disability, the inclusivity and diversity of the football crowd, and de-stigmatise learning disability.

"My research shows the diversity of football fans with a learning disability; all the people that took part engage in different activities in their lives.

"I found that there are many benefits of being a football fan to the people I interviewed; there is a strong association with developing a positive social identity and a feeling of belonging for people who might otherwise be quite isolated and detached from social interactions. Football acts as a good opportunity for them to meet new people, and creates opportunities in real life to interact with other people and to become more involved."

David Dowse, Bradford City FC’s facilities manager, said: "The Being a Bantam project has provided a group of fans with the opportunity to extend their skills and show just what the football experience means to them.

"We are proud of the links we have with fans with a physical or a learning disability and hope that the photographs will become a long-lasting display of how important football is to the lives of many true fans of the club."