As part of its commitment to ensuring the FIFA World Cup 2022™ is the most accessible edition in tournament history, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) has further developed its unique approach to ensuring stadiums cater for all – with the installment of another groundbreaking ‘sensory room’, this time at Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah City.
The room – which provides people with autism and other neurobehavioural conditions a safe space to retreat to during the game – was designed and delivered in partnership with the Qatar Rehabilitation Institute (QRI), and follows the successful inclusion of a similar room at Khalifa International Stadium.
So, for the second time during a Qatar 2022 stadium opening, the SC delivered a groundbreaking sensory room as Al Janoub Stadium opened its gates for the 2019 Amir Cup final.
On the night, 22 children with autism from the Qatar Foundation Ability Friendly Sports Programme and the QRI – joined by their parents – watched the game from the comfort of the room. The group from Qatar Foundation were also given the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to participate in a special on-pitch Generation Amazing activation, led by Brazil’s FIFA World Cup™-winning captain Cafu.
Before, during and after the game though, they had access to the sensory room – which was filled with equipment such as bubble tubes, beanbags, a ball pen; and also included relaxing wall and ceiling projections. Once again, it proved to be a huge success.
Commenting on the room and the partnership with the SC, QRI’s Chief of Occupational Therapy, Sultan Al Abdulla, said: “The team at QRI is proud to have partnered with the SC to equip the state-of-the-art sensory rooms in the stadium.
“Along with the SC, we are committed to promoting accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities in all aspects of life in Qatar, including working together to reach the vision of a fully accessible World Cup.”
He continued: “The QRI has provided a range of specialist sensory equipment for the sensory room which is now available in the stadium for children and adults who have conditions such as attention deficits, autism and head injuries. The room enables users to watch the matches under the supervision of an expert occupational therapist in a nurturing, client-centered sensory supportive environment.”
Although not written into FIFA’s requirements, the SC and its stakeholders are committed to prioritising accessibility in 2022, with plans in place to cater for people with both physical disabilities and cognitive disabilities.
The equipment in the room was provided by Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), and specialist staff from the QRI were on hand throughout to assist children when they needed extra care.
Commenting on the room, the SC’s Community Engagement Manager, Mead Al Emadi, said: “We are proud to have been able to deliver another sensory room, this time at the magnificent Al Janoub Stadium. We have always said this World Cup is a World Cup for all. All are welcome and all will be catered for – that includes people with conditions that can sometimes make it challenging to attend large-scale events such as football matches.
“However, with the inclusion of these sensory rooms, they and their families can attend the games knowing they have a safe space just a few metres away, should they become overwhelmed at any point.”
She continued: “It gives us all great pleasure to see these children able to relax and enjoy the events, just like everyone else. I would like to thank our partners at Qatar Foundation, QRI and HMC for making this wonderful project possible, and we look forward to working together many more times over the coming years – up to and beyond 2022.”
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