The Japan Football Association (JFA) installed two trial sensory rooms at Aichi’s Toyota Stadium for last Saturday’s international match between Japan’s U-24s and Jamaica.

This was the first time such a facility was installed at the 45,000-capacity stadium, home to the J-League Division 1 (J1) side Nagoya Grampus.

Two lucky families were invited to witness Japan’s Olympic team beat Jamaica’s national side 4-0 in sound-proof VIP boxes refitted with sensory-inclusive widgets and tools. The sensory room trial was made possible by football supporters through an online donation program organised by the JFA in March.

The Mainichi Shimbun newspaper reported that 12-year-old Ayuki Fujii has hypersensitivity in his hearing and usually struggles to be in a crowded environment but he could take off his earmuffs and enjoy the match in the sensory room. His mother told the paper: “We never really believed that there would be a day when we could enjoy a football match together. This will be remembered as the best day of 2021.”

Seven-year-old Keito Ideguchi, meanwhile, has intellectual disability and struggles to stay still which has previously made his football-loving mother give up going to stadia for the sake of “not causing troubles to other spectators” but they too enjoyed the experience and day out together as the excited mother told the paper: “He was enjoying the experience just like he would at home.”

The JFA aims to provide stadium experiences “without leaving anyone behind” and installed their first-ever trial sensory rooms at Tokyo’s National Stadium in January’s Emperor Cup final, and the new trial at Toyota Stadium marks the first time they did it outside Tokyo with officials from other codes such as rugby and basketball also present to see how these facilities were set up and operated.

Kiyotaka Suhara, executive director of the JFA, said: “We hoped to expand this program to other sporting codes so doing this trial outside Tokyo was extremely important.”

Image: Japan Football Association

Article provided by The Stadium Hub