The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 features numerous innovations introduced to enhance the fan experience. One of these is audio descriptive commentary in both Arabic and English for blind and partially-sighted fans – and Doha resident Bryan Kelly is playing a key role in providing the service.
The 42-year-old from Glasgow, Scotland, has lived in Qatar since 2020 with his wife and two children. A former youth coach with Scottish side Celtic, Kelly learned how to become an audio descriptive commentator after attending training organised by Hamad Bin Khalifa University, the Center for Access to Football in Europe and Alan March Sport. Fans are able to access audio descriptive commentary in Arabic and English via the FIFA Interpreting app (Apple / Google Play) and by using their own headphones. The service is available both in-stadium and around the world.
“The goal is to give visually impaired and blind people the same experience as most of us would have at a football stadium,” said Kelly, who trained Arsenal star Kieran Tierney and Stoke City defender Harry Souttar, who played for Australia at Qatar 2022, during his time at Celtic.
“The main difference between normal TV commentary and audio descriptive is the detail you give. You need to describe the distances on the pitch, the players’ facial expressions, the number of people in a wall, what type of corner is taken. It’s about trying to paint a picture in people’s minds by following the ball and providing as much detail as possible.”
An enrichment and personal development teacher at Oryx International School in Barwa City, Kelly had no prior experience of football commentary. But after encouragement from his wife, he signed up for training and was chosen to be part of the Qatar 2022 audio descriptive commentary team.
Kelly’s tournament highlight so far was his commentary debut – at Lusail Stadium on 22 November.
“Saudi Arabia versus Argentina was an incredible game,” said Kelly. “To start my commentating experience with that match was amazing. I also commentated on the Brazil versus Serbia game, which was another great experience, just in terms of the atmosphere the fans created.”
Kelly is hoping to continue working as an audio descriptive commentator in future.
“I have loved every second of it and it’s something I’d love to continue in the future. It’s been lovely for my family too, as they can tune in to the FIFA Interpreting app and hear it back home in Scotland. This service is going from strength to strength, so I’m interested to see how it all develops.”