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Soccer Sight commentary paints a picture for blind and partially sighted fans at QPR

15:08 10 September 2014

Amit Bhatia, co-owner and vice-chairman of QPR has a sister who is partially sighted

Amit Bhatia, co-owner and vice-chairman of QPR has a sister who is partially sighted

EMPICS Sport

Have you ever thought how difficult it would be for you to attend a match at Loftus Road if you couldn’t see the pitch or follow the action?

How much do you take it for granted that you can sit anywhere you like with your mates or family, travel to away games, read the programme or simply buy a pie at half-time?

Four years ago QPR made the decision to invest in equipment that enables blind and partially sighted fans to listen to a live commentary of the game sitting anywhere in the stadium.

Amit Bhatia’s sister is partially sighted and the QPR co-owner and vice president is delighted the club provide the service.

He said: “Offering audio commentary for our blind and visually impaired fans is a great way of enhancing their matchday experience.

“As a club we are keen to cater to all of our fans’ needs and Soccer Sight offers a fantastic way for our blind and partially sighted supporters to make the most of any trip to Loftus Road.”

Commentator Jordan Foster is studying for a degree in sports journalism and says the experience of volunteering for the QPR Trust is proving invaluable as he looks to secure a full-time role in the media.

He said: “I suppose it differs completely from TV commentary, but you can draw some comparisons with radio commentary.

“One of the things I am more paranoid about as I become more experienced is what the listener wants to hear. For example, I don’t think the listeners are too bothered about my opinion on certain things or about listening to a load of statistics – they want to know what is happening at the game; where the ball is on the pitch, where the players are and what they are wearing.

“I’m getting better at this as I feel it can help the visualisation of the game. It’s difficult at times (eg: ‘Squirrelgate’) but it’s certainly rewarding.”

Freelance journalist Sean Gallagher is also enjoying working with the QPR Trust.

He said: “The Soccer Sight commentary has been a particularly rewarding one for myself as it has not only enhanced my experience within the media industry, but also having the opportunity to work with the QPR Trust has been great.

“The Trust go above and beyond to help make everyone feel welcome and integrated in the community and Andy Evans and Fiona have done exactly that with myself and all the other commentators throughout, so it’s really given me an insight into how hard they work.

“This type of commentary is more about describing the action than reeling off the stats so the listener knows exactly where the ball, who is on the ball etc, meaning you must be fully aware at all times.

“The opportunity to provide full match commentary at Premier League games is absolutely fantastic too, as was doing it throughout the Championship promotion campaign last season.

“We’ve also been able to get the audio from the game and use it to put together a show reel, so all in all it’s a fantastic experience and one which I’m delighted to be involved in.”Fiona Hodgson, business development manager at QPR, says the service has proved to be a popular addition among fans.

She said: “We have been co-ordinating a soccer sight service for four years now and it has proven a great success, providing visually impaired supporters with a specialised commentary at the QPR home games.

“The commentators for the system have been through the RNIB training and volunteer their time to help with this service.

“Many of the volunteers are studying or have a strong interest in radio, sports journalism and media so it is a great platform for them to develop skills as well as providing an invaluable service.

“For the users it enhances their matchday experience and they are able to sit wherever they want to in the stadium.

“We have 20 headsets, of which 12 are booked out by season ticket holders and the other eight on a match by match basis.”

If you are blind or have a sight problem, sign up for this great service at the club now. Please contact Fiona Hodgson on 020 8740 2520 or fionah@qpr.co.uk

Follow me on Twitter @RobBrennan82

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