Back in 2020, two young visually-impaired Southampton fans were given life-changing wearable technology by Virgin Media, that enabled them to watch their beloved Saints in a way they’ve never experienced before.
During the clash between Saints and Manchester United on Sunday, the two lucky fans were official mascots at St Mary’s, where they wore their IrisVision glasses, which help them see more clearly.
Florence and Joshua were sat in the crowd near the dugout in their wearable tech, and were introduced to the crowd during half-time to a warm ovation from the Saints faithful, before taking part in a kickabout on the pitch after the game.
The pair are both visually impaired, while Florence has tunnel vision, which is the loss of peripheral vision with retention of central vision. This results in a constricted circular tunnel-like field of sight, meaning both have never clearly seen their favourite football club play.
With over 5.1 million visually impaired people in the UK, 43% of whom are football fans, Virgin Media is raising awareness of the technology available and supporting two deserving 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.
First team Saints captain, James Ward-Prowse, 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!”