Two young visually impaired Southampton fans were finally able to be mascots and to watch their beloved Saints in action against Manchester United at the weekend thanks to life-changing wearable technology.
It has been a long wait for Florence and Joshua, who both experience issues with their eyesight meaning that they have never clearly seen their favourite team play, as they were originally presented with the cutting-edge technology by Virgin Media in March 2020 ahead of being mascots for the game against Manchester City.
However, due to the outbreak of Covid-19 which meant games had to be played without fans and the tradition of matchday mascots, the young pair had to wait patiently for 18 months to get their next opportunity to fulfil the role. Although walking out on to the pitch is still off-limits due to matchday protocols, they were given unprecedented access at St Mary’s Stadium to make their day extra special.
This included being the first to greet the players as they got off the team bus; a tour of the stadium, seats situated behind the home dugout for the game and walking out on to the pitch with their wearable tech at half-time where they received a warm ovation from the Saints fans.
“It was incredible to be back at St Mary’s again with full crowds, and to be wearing my IrisVision glasses means I’m able to see the whole pitch in a way I’ve never been able to before.” said Florence, who also plays in the Saints Foundation Para Football Academy.
“It was so exciting to be so close to the action, and I couldn’t believe I got to be mascot at the first game back at St Mary’s – it was so exciting!” said Florence.
James Ward-Prowse, Captain of Southampton FC, said: “I can’t believe it was only last year that we met Florence & Joshua – it feels so long ago now after how the world has changed in the last 18 months. It was a pleasure to have them at the game, and we’re so happy that they got to experience a full St Mary’s after all this time. It was fantastic meeting them back in 2020, and great to see that as part of Virgin Media’s Super Saints campaign, that they’ve finally been able to take up their roles as matchday mascots. It’s incredibly rewarding when you’re given the opportunity to help kids who may be having a difficult time – and it’s great to have the fans back again this season!”