Football Audio Description’s importance.

Ollie Stockdale – Audio Description at Cardiff City F.C.

I spoke to LJMU Sports Journalist Ollie Stockdale who is part of Cardiff City’s Football Audio Description team about the need for what he does. He also explains his love for the game, goes into depth about his upbringing in a sporting environment and describes how he believes Cardiff City F.C’s season has been so far.

Hi Ollie, to start our chat off, could you tell us a little bit about yourself? How long have you been a football fan? What are some of your earliest footballing experiences that helped you fall in love with the sport?

Being born in Cardiff, it won’t surprise you to hear that my first sport was rugby! I played at my local rugby club Pentyrch RFC from the age of six. I had kicked a football around before that, but I do remember very well playing football in the school playground with a sponge ball every breaktime! I particularly loved the summer because that was the only time the school field was dry enough for us to play on a full scale pitch with actual goals! I fell in love with the game then and pestered my dad until he let me join the local team.

What is Audio Description?

Audio description is a specialist form of commentary. It is a much more descriptive form of commentary compared to standard radio or television commentary.

It is sometimes found in theatres and museums but in the past decade, audio description has also been introduced into some football grounds.

Audio description exists to enable blind and partially sighted people to access sporting and live action events more fully by providing all the significant visual information that a blind or partially sighted person may need.

At a football match this could include clothing, emotions, players’ body language, position on the pitch, action off the ball and even information about what is happening in the crowd!

When did you first get involved with description commentary and how did this opportunity come about? Has the football media always been of interest to you?

I have always been interested in football and the discussions and disagreements on and off the field, as well as being an avid watcher and player of the game. I had started to do some live commentaries of Liverpool games on my YouTube channel which were gaining quite a few followers. One of them sent me Cardiff FC’s advert looking for new audio describers and I decided to apply. I was only 16 at the time and didn’t hold out much hope but I was lucky enough to be selected for ADC training. I’ve never looked back.  

Do you believe that Audio description is important in sport and have you had much praise in terms of people telling you how much it helps them get closer to their club?

Making sport accessible to people with disabilities is hugely important and I’m very proud to be part of a service that does that. We’ve had excellent feedback from fans from clubs across the country who appreciate the service that is run by Alan March Sport. We try to bring fans closer to the action and bring the game alive and I think we do that pretty successfully. But there’s still work to be done – only a few football clubs currently offer audio description service as standard so the uptake needs to be much greater if we are to give blind and partially sighted fans a better experience.

What are the AD team like at Cardiff City and who are the other clubs that have an AD team?

The audio description team at Cardiff City FC is fantastic. It’s run by Andrew and overseen by Alan. The team consists of Jez and Ivan who are both a delight to listen to, I could listen to Jez for years and Ivan has a scarily good memory about Cardiff. There are many other clubs that provide audio description, clubs like Southampton, Leicester and Wolves in the Premier League and clubs like Nottingham Forest and Cardiff in the Championship and again with lower league clubs like Mansfield and Wrexham. However, audio description isn’t solely limited to football clubs, Alan March Sport provides audio description across a wide variety of sports and activities and events.

Now focusing solely on Cardiff City, how can people find your written work about the club as well as your audio description work?

Most of what I do is on my Twitter feed ‘@OllieStockdale1’; there’s stuff on there about audio description but also articles I’ve written for Dai Sport and All Out Football relating to Cardiff City.

Also, how would you describe The Bluebirds’ season so far?

It’s been pretty dreadful to say the least. They are way off the play offs and battling against relegation.  It’s been a season with glimpses of promise like the wins over Forest and Peterborough and with the FA Cup run that ended with a creditable effort at Anfield. But it’s also been a season full of frustration for Cardiff fans, like the hammerings given out by West Brom and Blackburn in September and the frustrating losses to Bristol and Swansea. Further frustration from Cardiff fans as they saw beloved Welsh striker Kieffer Moore leave on a fee of £3.78 million to close rivals Bournemouth, after initially being priced around £10 million when clubs showed interest earlier in the year. Hopefully for Cardiff they can avoid relegation and start a fresh next season.

  • ‘Audio description is a specialist form of commentary. It is a much more descriptive form of commentary compared to standard radio or television commentary’.

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