Inclusive activations for Qatar World Cup fans at Education City Stadium

Inclusive activations for Qatar World Cup fans at Education City Stadium

QLNews
By QLNews

From performances by artists with disabilities to sensory retreats and multi-sensory experiences, the Education City Stadium fan experience developed by Qatar Foundation will offer an inclusive and welcoming environment for every supporter when the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ kicks off.

The Education City Stadium will host eight matches during the tournament, including one quarter final. On match days, fans will be able to enjoy a range of accessible activations on their way to the match via the routes taken from transport hubs, parking spaces, or drop-off locations to the stadium.

“Something for everyone was our guiding motto when designing the Education City Stadium fan experience,” Brooke Reid, Manager of Engagement and Activation at Education City, Qatar Foundation said. “We didn’t just want to create a barrier-free environment, but an actively welcoming and inclusive one that fans of all abilities can enjoy," he added.

What to expect 

Performances will include singing, dancing, and freestyle football, and will highlight both the culture of Qatar and the nations playing at the Education City Stadium. Inclusive performances will include the Korean Traditional Music Orchestra for the Blind, which is comprised of visually impaired musicians, and dance-offs between international break-dancers with disabilities. Live sign interpretation of musical performances will be available for the deaf and hearing impaired.

Other performances will include Omar Offendum a Syrian American hip hop artist and rock band Faraway Martin.

Several sensory activations will be present within the Education City Stadium fan experience to help supporters with sensory regulation, including a freestanding music wall with instruments and noise-making capacity that will allow those that need auditory regulation to play and engage, while creating an opportunity for sensory stimulation.

Other sensory activations will include a tactile wall, composed of rubber, seashells, sanded timber, wool and mosaic tiles and a tactile path composed of concreted pebbles, carpet, exercise mat and cork. The tactile materials a mix of soft, hard, raised, and other textured surfaces will help people to self-regulate, avoid sensory overload, exhaustion, or burnout. “These tactile surfaces will accommodate the needs of those prone to both sensory hyposensitivity and hypersensitivity by being stimulating for under-responders and calming for over-responders,” Reid said. 

A wheelchair accessible light tunnel with soothing light patterns and noise reduction will allow fans to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the fan experience and be in a safe, quiet space that can help reduce feelings of distress that can arise from overstimulation. Meanwhile, a mobile sensory trailer, supplied by the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, will also be present along the route to the stadium, serving as a safe space and a refuge for fans with sensory issues.



“Fan experience can differ greatly from one person to another,” Reid said. “Some fans may enjoy loud music and bright lights, whereas other may find the same music and lights overwhelming and may need a break. That is exactly what the sensory trailer will help them do,” Reid added.

Rest benches, with access for wheelchair users, will be available throughout to provide respite to whoever needs it. A limited number of golf carts will also be available to support fans with limited mobility to move back and forth from the stadium. 

Accessibility volunteers trained by Qatar Foundation and part of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ volunteering force will be positioned at key points of the fan experience. They are informed and trained to interact, accommodate, and support fans of all abilities. “For example, accessibility volunteers will carry visual communication cards that will allow them to interact and support fans that are non-verbal, deaf and hard of hearing or even those that are unable to communicate because of a language barrier,” Reid said.

Other activations will include an interactive location where spectators will attempt to head a football, a wall with plants representing the 32 nations participating in the tournament, a gigantic trophy, a photo booth, a Qatari majlis, and sustainability sculptures.

Timings

Activations will start three hours prior to match kick-off times, pause during the match, and resume for two hours after the game, and will include cultural performances relevant to countries playing on specific match days.

“A lot of thought and planning has gone into ensuring inclusivity is at the core of the Education City Stadium fan experience, from including performers of all abilities to offering a wide range of inclusive activations to having trained accessible volunteers onsite,” Reid said.

“The experience of going to a football match, and everything that comes with it, can be overstimulating for many of us, but particularly those with sensory issues, and so they often refrain from attending which can create feelings of exclusion. Through creating an inclusive fan experience we are using sport as a powerful tool to foster social inclusion and we hope it will allow fans of all abilities to have an enjoyable match day experience,” Reid said.

For more information on the Education City Stadium fan experience, click here

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