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Special day for Keelam

Yesterday’s game marked a special occasion for young fan Keelam O’Connor, who led the teams out before the match.

The 12-year-old from Enfield is a participant in the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation’s Unified Football work with Special Great Britain and National Grid, which gives people with learning disabilities the chance to play football alongside and against those without.

Keelam has a learning disability and was selected as a mascot as part of the Club’s support for the Level Playing Field Weeks of Action 2012.

The Weeks of Action promote the need for an inclusive and equal experience for all fans, bringing together clubs and fans at all levels of the game.

Level Playing Field estimates that at least 30,000 disabled fans currently attend league matches each season. More than 50% of disabled people have never attended a public or sporting event and one in four families will include someone who is disabled. Added to that, it is estimated that up to £80bn per year is generated by disabled supporters.

The challenges faced by disabled people are numerous, often unexpected, but frequently easily resolved; Level Playing Field works alongside the football family and government, lobbying for continued improvements and sharing good practice where it exists. Football clubs seek higher attendances and we want to see more disabled people enjoying the match day experience.

The Tottenham Hotspur Disabled Supporters Association was founded in May 2010 to represent and promote the views of disabled fans and now has in excess of 80 members.

The Club regularly liaises with the DSA and any problems faced by disabled fans are highlighted at meetings with actions formed to resolve any issues.

Meanwhile, a fundamental aim of the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation is to ensure that all projects and programmes are inclusive and provide opportunities for people of all ages and abilities across our local communities.

The Foundation works within partnerships that focus on people with learning difficulties, physically disabled people, people who are experiencing mental health conditions and older people.

The work aims to provide life-changing experiences through actively supporting the equality of opportunity, inclusion and development of people within areas such as sports and physical activity, education and training, transition and volunteering, and employment.