Sensory viewing room allows children with sensory requirements to enjoy FIFA Arab Cup™ matches
While thousands of fans enjoyed a carnival atmosphere in the stands during the FIFA Arab Cup™ match between Tunisia and Oman at Education City Stadium, a number of supporters took in the game from the venue’s sensory viewing room, which provides a calm and secure environment for people with sensory access requirements.
The sensory room, which is located in one of the stadium’s sky boxes, offers visitors the chance to watch live football in a specially-lit space that aims to alleviate any anxiety they may feel while attending a large-scale event. The purpose of the room is to offer people an enjoyable match day experience in a location that feels safe and secure. It features soft furnishings, toys and other activities which were installed by the Qatar Institute for Speech and Hearing.
The sensory viewing room, which was set up by the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) in collaboration with the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 LLC and FIFA – and with support from Qatar Foundation (QF) – caters mainly for children and young adults with autism or learning difficulties, among other sensory access requirements. Sensory rooms were previously set up at two other FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ stadiums: Khalifa International and Al Janoub – but Education City houses the first permanent facility of this type.
Parents and children who attended the sensory viewing room during the FIFA Arab Cup™ were full of praise for the facility.
“This room is really important, as it allows my son to ease into the excitement of watching a football match,” said Azlan Bin Osman, whose child, Amir, 12, has autism.
“He loved the sights and sounds of the stadium, and could feel the excitement – especially when a goal was scored,” added Osman. “It was a really valuable experience for both of us. I am very happy my child was able to experience a football match for the first time and would like to thank all the staff for helping us.”
Ayesha Ahmed’s son, Haroon, 16, also has autism. She said: “It’s amazing to have access to this facility, where children can get away from the noise. It also was not very crowded, which made it even more enjoyable. We both really enjoyed the atmosphere and the ability to get away from the noise when required. It was amazing for my son and me. The hosts were fantastic.”
Khaled Al Suwaidi, the SC’s Stakeholder Relations Director, said: “We are committed to hosting the most inclusive World Cup in history – and facilities like the sensory viewing room at Education City Stadium are a major part of our plans. We understand that large, noisy crowds may be overwhelming for some fans, so we feel it is important to run a facility like this for children and young people, so they can enjoy the match in a safe and calming environment.”
QF has been supporting the SC in the development and delivery of the sensory room in order to provide this invaluable resource.
Nihal Al-Saleh, Qatar Foundation Project Manager – Sustainable Cities, said: “Enhancing the already spectacular facilities available for the FIFA World Cup through the development and implementation of the sensory room has been a wonderful team effort.
"By enabling fans to have access to these spaces, we will ensure a memorable and inclusive World Cup for all, irrespective of abilities and needs. Inclusive facilities and services will ensure that everyone can take part in celebrating football on the world stage. The sensory room in Education City Stadium provides an important legacy for inclusive sporting experiences in Qatar and the region.”