Recite Me

A trip to watch football is something large numbers of people take for granted but, for fans who have autism, it can be a challenge.

However, League Two side Oldham Athletic are leading the way in making their home games a more inclusive environment.

The Latics have become the first club in the English Football League to offer sensory packs for autistic fans to improve their matchday experience at Boundary Park.

The packs, which are free of charge, include a map of the ground, noise-cancelling headphones and an Autism Awareness card, which is to be shown to matchday staff and stewards to ask for assistance when entering the ground.

They also provide a club-branded medal and a fidget spinner - the toy originally designed to help children deal with stress.

"Myself and the staff at a youth club for autistic children sat down and discussed it and I went away and got my thinking cap on," Oldham's head of community Martin Vose told BBC Radio Manchester.

"We came up with some simple things that might help, we talked to the parents at the club and got their feedback."

Of the 10 packs that were made available by the club following Martin's discussions, nine have been given out.

Although the club have made a start, they realise there is still more work to be done on making a football match a more welcoming environment.

"There's more awareness of autism now, especially with Anne [Hegerty] from I'm A Celebrity talking about autism and that will get it into the mainstream," said Vose.

"For Oldham it's just the start. We work really closely with the football club and we're looking at other disabilities. We can't conquer everything at once, but we are looking at the next step.

"We're a small club and each and every one of our fans mean something. When you're in League Two and getting smaller crowds, you can't afford to have any barriers for fans not to attend.

"By having initiatives such as these sensory packs, for nine people it's taken away a barrier to attend an Oldham Athletic match. You can't beat an afternoon at the football."