Wednesday, 12 September 2012

The MACS Factor...

The game against Daggenham & Redbridge was going to be an interesting one from the playing point of view, but it was also the very first time we had visitors taking advantage of our ‘AFC Wimbledon Matchday Experience’. This is a community project financed by a very generous (and retiring!) supporter and is intended to allow disadvantaged youngsters the opportunity to watch the Dons in action. We could have just sent out random batches of free tickets, but we think there is a great opportunity here to develop so strong ties with the less advantaged in our community so the ‘experience’ is extended to the children, parents and siblings from local charities and organizations and includes a free signed programme  (which will also feature a profile of the organization) an enamel badge courtesy of Terry’s Badges, a meet and greet session, tickets (of course!) and a burger, chips and drink at half time. Hopefully this will be a great day out for them and the intention is to invite as wide and varied a set of organisations as possible, without regard to the level of ‘difficulty’ in accommodating them. We are happy to invite them, describe the resources and leave it up to the organisation to make the decision whether to attend or not.
There might have been an element of this with our first visitors from the Microphthalmia & Anophthalmia Children’s Society or MACS, to give it its slightly more pronounceable name!  MACs children are born with either no or underdeveloped  or  misformed eyes. Three families from the local support group were able to join us before the match just by the Dons Trust gazebo. If you saw me standing there like a taxi driver at an airport, name board in hand, well you know why now!
After introductions and a chat we made our way in to the Main Stand where the seats were ideally placed just behind the disabled section, which meant visitors and those seeking the toilet could get in and out with no fuss! Everyone was issued with their programmes, badges and meal vouchers and as we had a few minutes spare we took the youngsters to the Tempest End to see the flags and sample the ‘atmosphere’. The team were warming up and practicing the precision shooting and pin-point placement that we’ve come to know and love. So, after wayward efforts had taken out several flags and as the shots were flying around our heads in a ‘little too  close for comfort’ style, we beat a hasty retreat back to their seats.
I then had to leave them to help out Haydon on the pitch, but I could see out of the corner of my eye that gold-medal winner Sophie Hosking had made a special trip over to let them see her medal and pose for some photos, which was really nice of her.
And then the game was off. There were three of the four goals up their end and a 2-2 draw couldn’t have been bad for the casual observer (Not as good as a 3-2 win, but you can’t have everything it seems). I was able to get to them after the game and it seems that they had a great time all round. Their mascot is entering the AFC Wimbledon Chariots of Fur Triathlon on Sunday and they’ll have their own stall next to ours so I think we can say that we’ve made some new friends.
(And in that spirit of friendship, can I point out that tickets for the MACS Ball ('A NIGHT OF GLAMOUR' - An evening of elegance, opulance ... and magical surprises!) are on sale now. Saturday 20th October in London)

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