An interview with George Dowell
May 1, 2023
Football and its accessibility are areas that Sociability has recently begun exploring. We've come to realise how access can vary greatly depending on the location, venue, and even the specific disability adjustments required. A few years back, during one of our mapping days, we had the pleasure of meeting George and his partner Jessikah. We also discovered that George is the proud owner of Worthing Football Club. Pretty impressive, right?! Naturally, we just had to sit down with him for a chat, and we're absolutely thrilled that he agreed. So, without further ado, let's dive right into our conversation and learn more about George's experience off the pitch...
Hey, George! Thanks so much for joining us - so first things first let's talk the back story, has football always been a passion of yours?
I’ve always loved football for as long as I can remember! Been told by my parents that as soon as I was walking I was kicking a ball around. I started playing when I was 4 for Worthing United under 5s, and loved it ever since. Obviously after my sci at 17, I could no longer play the sport I so loved but was keen to stay involved. So when the opportunity came up to buy Worthing Fc, it was too good to pass up!
What does your day-to-day role look like?
In recent years as the club has grown my day-to-day workload has reduced as the off-pitch team has grown and we have more full-time staff members. However, I still have jobs that I’m heavily involved with at the club, mainly social media and alongside the board, leading and setting the strategy of the club.
"In terms of accessibility, we're so impressed with your Accessibility Guide. Can you tell us why you decided to create this and what you wanted to achieve?"
I decided to create this because I wanted to let people with a disability know that the ground is accessible for all, so they can rest assured we have the facilities to make them feel as comfortable as possible and if they have any queries there is a number to contact.
What do you think is important when considering disabled attendees at football matches?
I think the biggest and most important thing to consider is the positioning of the accessible seating. There’s nothing worse than arriving at a game and being stuck in a corner where you can hardly see the pitch and choices are often limited at stadiums so you can't move around and pick where you want to go, you’re stuck!
Although, as Worthing FC have got bigger and we’ve gone up in the leagues, the grounds we’ve played at have improved and so this issue is less common.
Equally as important is that the stadium has comfortable disabled toilet facilities so that you can relax in the knowledge that if you do need to go to the loo, then there is a place to do so. You don’t want to get to the ground and find out you can’t use the toilet.
And finally, what are your goals for the future?
The ambition is to keep growing the club, on and off the pitch. Building relationships with our community and ensuring the club remains sustainable and financially secure so that everyone can enjoy it for years to come!
And there we have it! Thanks so much to George for joining us to talk more about Worthing Football Club and the focus on inclusion. We know the importance of accessibility and how George's passion for it will improve so many disabled people's experience of watching football. Let's hope more people follow his efforts. Keep it up George and we can't wait to see what's next - hopefully another mapping day soon! Want to find out more? Follow George and his partner Jessikah on Instagram with the handle @thewheellife_.
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