In Macedonia, the programme is focusing on improving stadium infrastructures and starting education and activities, organised at the federation and clubs level, to encourage the inclusion of people with disabilities through and in football.
Filip Popovski, the General Secretary of the Football Federation of Macedonia (FFM), said: “The project Captains of Change encourages creating easy access for people with disabilities to the stadiums and sports facilities in Macedonia and involving them in the social activities.
“Football is a sport for everybody and should be available for everybody. By modernising our stadiums we are opening the stadiums for people with disabilities and it would allow them to watch the live matches and be active participants.
“Many researches show that differences lead to progress and our commitment is to integrate the marginalised groups in football and sports in general.”
On 15 May, a friendly match, followed by a discussion, brought together FFM employees and members of Mobility, an association for people with disabilities, to address the perceptions, stereotypes and prejudices faced by people, and further opportunities for extending cooperation.
Also as part of the programme in March 2015 the Macedonian FA invited people with disabilities to attend a national team match against Belarus and support the team. On the day, the youngest supporters also participated as player’s escorts during the opening ceremony and national anthems.
President of Mobility Macedonia and Paralympic gold medallist in archery, Branimir Jovanovski, welcomed the changes: “By adjusting the infrastructure, marking parking spaces, bridging the altitude barriers at the entrances of the stadiums, adaptation of adequate space in the stands for people who use a wheelchair to watch sports events, adapting the toilets at the sports facilities in the first league clubs, we will be able to watch football closely, but we would also be able to attend many concerts, spectacles and events that take place in these facilities.
“FFM is breaking the barriers, both architectural barriers and barriers of public awareness, and this commitment deserves respect and appreciation”.
“This is a story that is just starting to develop, but we are excited by watching our project becoming a reality” stressed Irena Bakrevska-Miloshevska, in charge of the Captains of Change project at the Football Federation of Macedonia.