Radiožurnál Commentators bring Football Game Alive for Blind Fans

Blind fans making their way to the tribune with reporter Vojtěch Koval - Foto: Jakub Pláteník,  AC Sparta Praha

Blind fans making their way to the tribune with reporter Vojtěch KovalFoto: Jakub Pláteník, AC Sparta Praha

Radiožurnál, the Lightening bug Foundation and Sparta Prague football club are testing out commentary for the blind. There are specific aspects to this, which commentators got to learn for the first time at a Sparta-Mladá Boleslav game. What do blind fans appreciate most? And what is the experience of being at an actual game like for them?

Czech Radio commentators Jan Suchan and František Kuna met a trio of visually impaired fans at the small press centre at Sparta’s stadium. It was a new situation for everyone involved. The blind fans heard commentary on the action at a stadium for the first time ever. But first they had to decide on what they’d like to be informed about during a match. 

Details can be important. What is written on banners in the stands? How far out was the player who headed that goal? This requires extra imagination on the part of the commentators. “To bring the place to life more. To really let us know what’s happening. Maybe even what expression a player has,” said one of the blind fans.
“Radiožurnál has been involved in projects for the visually impaired for a long time. When Sparta approached us with the idea, we didn’t hesitate for a moment. For our commentators it’s also a special event,” said Radiožurnál editor in chief Ondřej Suchan. 

Each of the fans received a wireless receiver and headphones during which they could hear all the descriptions made by Jan Suchan and František Kuna in the commentators’ gantry. Michal, Tomáš and Zdeněk took their seats and tried out the connection to the commentating duo. In the end they got to celebrate a total of four goals for Sparta and one for Mladá Boleslav. 

Zdeněk was greatly amused by a number of the commentators’ turns of phrase. For his part, Tomáš got swept up by the game and could have held his own in the home end. “I also enjoyed the non-football stuff, how you described the flags at the start. I enjoyed how you commentated on the communication between the players, too – that was very entertaining. Fantastic!” said Zdeněk of the live commentary. 

As with the commentators, the fans faced challenges. They had to find their way around the ground. At present it’s not possible to bring guide dogs, which could be frightened by bangers. Blind fans will get another chance to experience the atmosphere of a football match with special commentary during a Sparta-Slavia derby on 4 November. 

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