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Saints Disabled Supporters’ Association: an introduction to the group

Saintsworld is delighted to announce a partnership with the Saints Disabled Supporters’ Association. We will publish regular articles on its work, and useful information, such as away travel guides, that will be of great use. Thank you for reading.

 

In May 2010, Saints contacted five disabled supporters that had previously contacted the club to arrange a meeting with a view to setting up a disabled supporters’ association (DSA).

The five supporters met with the ticket office manager in the Director’s Guest Room at St Mary’s to discuss how the club saw the group working, and to agree that a DSA was needed.  The club’s vision was that the DSA would act as a conduit so disabled supporters would contact the DSA with issues they were encountering, and the DSA would then advise the supporter, or discuss with the club at the next meeting, and then feed back the outcome to the disabled supporter.

Over the next couple of months, the five supporters met at St Mary’s and they worked out how the DSA would work, what roles each would take to form an interim committee, and to agree a constitution.  It was also agreed that the group should be called “Saints Disabled Supporters’ Association” or SDSA for short.

Towards the start of the next season, a larger meeting for all disabled supporters was planned, but due to the sad passing of Marcus Liebherr, the meeting was postponed until the end of September.

On Wednesday, 29th September 2010, the interim committee held the initial meeting in the Matt Le Tissier Suite at St Mary’s, but due to it being a wet evening, the turnout wasn’t as large as hoped. The 20 or so there heard about the DSA and the plans for the future, and the interim committee was voted in as the initial committee.  Volunteers were sought to join the committee, which grew from five to seven by the end of the evening. The SDSA had been formed!

About six weeks later, the Chairman of Southampton FC, Nicola Cortese, invited the Chair, Vice-chair, and Secretary to lunch in a box at St Mary’s to hear about the SDSA and to offer any help.  He was asked for help with initial funding for the SDSA and permission was sought to use the Saints crest/logo within the SDSA logo.

Mr Cortese was pleased that he had been asked to use the Saints logo instead of us just using it, and offered the services of the club’s graphics team to come up with a few alternatives. Once the options had been developed, the committee chose the version that matched the Saints logo, but replacing “Southampton FC” with “S.D.S.A.” at the bottom.

Mr Cortese also offered £500 to help the SDSA, with half paid straight away and the other half the following season.

Membership of the SDSA was initially £10 (as that was a fee charged by some other DSAs), but it was soon reduced dramatically (with refunds for existing members), adding concessions for families, once it was realised that there weren’t many members joining and there was a better understanding of what money was required to run the SDSA, so a high membership fee wasn’t needed.

The committee started to meet monthly (as they still do) at St Mary’s, with club representatives, and the discussions began.

In March 2011, the SDSA sponsored the match ball for a Cancer Research UK charity match played at Havant and Waterlooville’s ground, with an ex-Saints XI team playing and ex-Pompey XI team.  After the game, everyone met in the clubhouse, and the ex-Saints and Wales keeper, Paul Jones, was approached to become an ambassador for the SDSA, which he immediately accepted.

In July 2011, the SDSA held an Open Day in the Dell Café at St Mary’s, where local organisations exhibited what they offered.  That evening, the first AGM was held, also in the Dell Café, and another volunteer was added to the committee.

Thank you for taking the time to read this introduction to the work the SDSA does.

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