Friday 04 August 2023, 22:30

'Painting pictures' with Audio Descriptive Commentary

  • Blind and partially sighted football fans have had the opportunity to receive a detailed account of the on-field action during Australia & New Zealand 2023.

  • Germany fan Tanja Schaetzle, who has a serious glaucoma condition has been enjoying the service

  • Commentator Eli Mwaijumba says painting a picture of the World Cup’s colour and vitality is part of the role.

German football fanatic Tanja Schaetzle had long dreamed of experiencing a World Cup in a faraway land. There was just one major problem – a serious glaucoma condition means she has just 15 per cent vision. Tanja attends football every weekend in Germany due to the availability of Audio Descriptive Commentary; a service that offers a detailed account of the on-field action for blind and partially-sighted supporters. Then she read about the availability of the service in all stadiums at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™.

Audio Descriptive Commentary is part of the tournament’s aim to be as inclusive as possible for every member of society. “I knew before I came here that the service is available,” Tanja said. “If this wasn’t the case then I wouldn’t have flown to Sydney because I don’t learn enough about the match. Before [the service] I was rarely in the stadium, because I couldn’t see enough and it was frustrating.” Heidelberg-based, Stuttgart-supporting Tanja and her father Henry arrived in Sydney in time for the Germany-Colombia match at the Sydney Football Stadium.

“I love football and since Covid I hadn’t been able to go to the stadium so often, and we decided to make a special trip to Australia,” added Tanja, who named Alex Popp and Laura Freigang as her favourite players. “The commentary here is very good – they know all the news and the players. Sometimes they talk too fast for me but they know all the players’ names which isn’t always the case in Germany so it is better in that way. “It is good that they look after all fans, including people with some disability and that all can enjoy the stadium atmosphere and watch the match. “The pitch is not far from my seating position which is better than back home. It’s a great atmosphere here.”

Eli Mwaijumba and Nathan Alleyne (Audio Descriptive Commentary) during the FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 Group A match between Norway and Philippines at Eden Park

Auckland / Tāmaki Makaurau-based commentator Eli Mwaijumba says painting a picture of the World Cup’s colour and vitality is part of the role. “If you just close your eyes to when you are watching a television commentary, yes, you are getting detail about what's going on, and yes, you're getting names, but you're not understanding what's going on,” he said. “Our job is to paint that picture for that person and give them the chance to share that experience with everyone. So we're really there to paint a picture in their head so that they understand what's going on. And to be able to do that and deliver that for them is truly remarkable. “I think the biggest thing that I've learned is that the amount of passion for football everywhere, whether … you've got some form of disability or not. And it's learning that this game is for everyone and it's about being inclusive. “One thing I think I was ignorant about is just how difficult it can be for people who have physical challenges. And the mere fact that just because you have that challenge doesn't mean that you can't go out and enjoy it just like everyone.”

Fans arriving at the game simply need to use their own smartphone and headphones, download the FIFA Interpreting app using the access code ADCFWWC2023 and enjoy the commentary which starts 30 minutes prior to kick-off. Find out more about the Accessibility services here.